We will not be silenced

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Feature Story - 31 October, 2012
This week a small billboard company removed our ad exposing John West’s use of destructive fishing practices. The company stated it was due to “commercial pressure.” So where did the pressure come from?


On Tuesday, Greenpeace’s billboard was removed near John West’s head office in Melbourne. The billboard revealed that Australia’s largest tuna brand is hooked on destructive fishing practices, which wipe out fish stocks and unnecessarily kill other marine animals.

A small family-owned company, Independent Outdoor Media (IOM), told us our promotional campaign was cut short following “commercial pressure” but would not be drawn on the exact nature.

John West’s owner, Simplot, has an enormous media-buying budget. Simplot is one of Australia’s largest food companies – owners of popular brands like Leggo’s and Birds eye – running huge advertising campaigns for its brands. We are keen to know whether or not Simplot pressured IOM to take down the billboard targeting it.

In the meantime, we are replacing this billboard with a mobile version to spread the important message about John West around town.

  • For more about the billboard removal, read these articles in The Age and B&T

This event follows some curious activity on social media.

Last week, John West shut down the company’s Facebook page to people outside Australia and New Zealand. This means Pacific Islanders are unable to comment on John West’s fishing practices despite the company relying on Pacific tuna. The company also largely stopped responding to Australian consumers’ concerns on the same page since the launch of our campaign.

We’re calling on John West to follow the lead set by Australian brands Safcol, Greenseas and Sirena and commit to banning fish aggregation devices (FADs) used with large nets. This is the same commitment made by John West Germany, John West UK and in fact, the entire UK tuna industry.

Rather than make a genuine commitment to become sustainable, John West is instead choosing the art of greenwash. John West has said its products will be “sustainable by 2015”, but it refuses to not to use FADs, unlike more responsible brands.

Let’s be clear, FADs are not sustainable. But the good news is there are proven alternatives available like pole and line fishing. John West does have a pole and line range – which it is busy promoting now – but sadly it only makes up around 2% of its entire range. The other 98% still permits the use of destructive FADs.

Australians have shown they want sustainable seafood and have asked tuna companies to provide it. While some are doing the right thing, Australia’s biggest brand is continuing to lets its customers – and our oceans – down.

Help fund our mobile billboard. More exposure puts greater pressure on John West to act.

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