We’re giving John West a makeover

Feature Story - 13 November, 2012
Today we’ve escalated our campaign against John West. It involves a giant can of spurting fake blood and a message for the tuna giant to listen to Australian consumers and stop using destructive fishing practices.

This is gruesome, but John West is responsible for the needless slaughter of hundreds of tonnes of marine life every year. Its headquarters has now had a makeover that reflects what happens at sea and out of the public eye. Activists dressed as sharks have also climbed onto the roof hanging a banner reading ‘John West’s Killer Deal’ over the entrance to the building, as volunteers talk to John West staff (here is a copy of the flyer we handed them)

Australians are ocean lovers and they’ve been outraged to discover that Australia’s largest tuna brand is responsible for killing hundreds of tonnes of sharks, rays, juvenile tuna and even turtles every year. Over 15,000 Australians have already emailed Simplot (owner of John West) Managing Director, Terry O’Brien, demanding the company change its fishing practices.

Reject John West

Rather than meeting consumers’ concerns, John West has tried to avoid the negative attention, simply responding with greenwash. It has refused to answer questions from the media and has attempted to deflect consumer concerns with a meaningless statement proclaiming its ‘sustainability’ goal, while avoiding a pledge to proven responsible fishing methods.

Why is John West’s ‘sustainability’ statement not enough?

  • John West is using a vague statement with no specific commitments. To be truly sustainable, the tuna giant must make a clear and unambiguous commitment to drop the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) used with purse seine nets.
  • There is no such thing as sustainable FADs. The evidence is clear: FADs with purse seines are causing irreparable damage to tuna stocks and marine life.
  • There are proven fishing alternatives that are available to use now, such as pole and line or FAD-free fishing. John West does have a pole and line product, which is a good start, but it only makes up 2% of its entire range.
  • The use of FADs is increasing. If tuna brands don’t commit to ending FAD use now, there will be no incentive for fishing vessels to stop using them.
  • John West’s biggest Australian competitors, Greenseas and Sirena, have agreed to ban FADs due to the destruction they cause. Not to mention John West Germany, John West UK and every other tuna brand in the UK, Safeway in the US, Mareblu in Italy and many other brands in Europe.  Why can’t the biggest brand in Australia do the same?

Read more about the problem of FADs and what sustainable tuna actually means.

The issue remains: John West sources tuna from fishing boats where at least 10% of the haul is needless bycatch. Unless John West switches its fishing method, Australians should switch tuna brands.

Greenpeace is campaigning globally to ban the destructive use of FADs with purse seine nets to ensure the viability of tuna fisheries and protect the food, and economic security of coastal states whose fish resources underpin the multi-billion dollar global tuna industry.

While major brands in Australia and across the globe are committing to end the use of FADs with purse seine nets, John West is only committed to greenwash.

It’s time Australia’s largest brand, which enjoys around one third of canned tuna sales in the country, puts its money where its mouth is and make a true commitment to ocean protection.

Reject John West

2012 Canned Tuna Ranking