Greenpeace: Taste the waste in Clover Leaf canned tuna

Feature story - May 26, 2011
Vancouver — Greenpeace today launched a campaign directed at Clover Leaf Seafoods through a parody website and by distributing fake tuna cans labeled “Just Tuna?” to highlight the ocean life that the company wastes in filling its cans.

“Clover Leaf talks a green game about its tuna but it lags far behind in greening the contents of its cans,” said Sarah King, Greenpeace oceans campaign coordinator. “The company says it is waiting for research results on how to waste less marine life in tuna fisheries but this delay simply can’t be justified when thousands of tonnes of vulnerable species are dying every year to fill Clover Leaf branded cans.”

Clover Leaf is a major offender in canning unsustainably caught tuna. The company sources from fisheries that take a huge toll on other marine species such as sea turtles, sharks and even seabirds that are caught incidentally, known as bycatch. With the largest canned tuna market share in Canada, Clover Leaf has a crucial role in greening canned seafood in supermarkets nation wide.

The greatest waste comes from longline fisheries and purse seine fisheries that use devices (fish aggregating devices or FADs) that attract tuna and other species.. These fisheries account for the bulk of tuna fisheries world-wide. Both fishing methods are known for their catch of threatened species. FAD-associated purse seining also threatens the health of vulnerable tuna species like bigeye and yellowfin, found on Greenpeace’s Redlist. These tuna are caught as juveniles in the FAD fisheries, mistaken for skipjack — the tuna most commonly targeted for canning.

“Greenpeace has taken Clover Leaf’s Take 5 recipe campaign and used it on our website to create an opportunity for customers to send in tuna-less recipes until the company decides to start sourcing tuna responsibly,” said King.

On the website parodying Clover Leaf, Greenpeace estimates that bycatch from purse seine fisheries that use FADs could fill the equivalent of nearly one billion cans of tuna a year. On average, longline fisheries catch even more bycatch per trip. To reflect its concerns about the impact on other species, Greenpeace changed Clover Leaf’s tagline on its logo from “Love the taste every time” to “Taste the waste every time.”

To direct the public to the new website, Greenpeace volunteers, posing as Clover Leaf employees in the downtown business areas of Montreal and Vancouver, handed out the tuna-less cans that contained an information sheet describing the wasted marine life associated with Clover Leaf tuna and a branded magnet with the web address. The can labels also had the web address along with an altered Clover Leaf logo depicting a sea turtle with a hook in its mouth and a four-leafed clover on its back.

"Greenpeace’s website lets Canadians know they could be getting more than they bargained for in Clover Leaf brand tuna. This household brand needs to turn over a new leaf and show its customers it’s serious about the sustainability claims it makes on its website. Clover Leaf must follow the lead of other leading brands and start switching to more sustainable and equitable tuna.”

Greenpeace’s recent ranking of 14 of Canada’s major canned tuna brands shows Clover Leaf isn’t alone in sourcing from destructive fisheries: most tuna in the retail sector was not sustainably caught or equitable. Since the release of the tuna ranking, several companies are working to change sources, including Clover Leaf’s competitors. This work by Greenpeace is part of an international tuna campaign directed at top tuna brands around the globe. In the UK, there has been success with strong commitments made by major tuna brand Princes and private label brands in various supermarkets to switch to skipjack from more sustainable FAD-free purse seine fisheries and from pole-and-line-caught fisheries. Greenpeace is calling on Clover Leaf to do the same and also stop selling Redlisted yellowfin tuna.

The 2011 Greenpeace tuna brand ranking report:

Greenpeace and the ISSF Environmental Stakeholder Committee