Clover Leaf Seafoods gets canned by Greenpeace in tuna ranking

Feature story - April 17, 2013
Consumers hoping to buy sustainably-sourced tuna products might think twice about purchasing from Clover Leaf Seafoods, says Greenpeace Canada. The organization released its third annual ranking of canned tuna brands today and graded Clover Leaf the worst among 14 companies.

“Clover Leaf has become synonymous with ocean destruction in a can,” said Sarah King, Greenpeace Canada’s oceans campaign coordinator. “Until Canada’s biggest brand sources its tuna responsibly, Greenpeace is urging consumers to choose brands working to be ocean-friendly.”

The “2013 Canned Tuna Sustainability Ranking” is based on documentation reported to Greenpeace Canada in a standardized questionnaire.  The information is then used to rank the sustainability and equitability of the brands’ tuna sourcing practices and policies.

Companies are graded on their attention to sourcing from healthy stocks, fishing methods that reduce the impact on other marine life, and suppliers that ensure fair and safe working conditions. To achieve full marks, tuna products must be traceable, legal and equitable, with the company pushing for change beyond its supply chain for wider marine protection.

The ranking reveals that, based on last year’s results, Walmart, Unico and Clover Leaf are the only brands not making progress toward eliminating destructively-caught tuna from their product lines. Leading the 2013 rankings, however, are Raincoast Trading, Wild Planet, Safeway and Gold Seal.

Safeway became the first major Canadian retailer to replace its entire skipjack tuna line with fish aggregating device (FAD)-free, or free-school, tuna. FADs are floating objects meant to attract tuna but they also lure species like sharks, rays and baby tuna that are caught when the FADs are encircled with purse seine nets. FAD-free products from other brands are expected this year.

Two retailers, Metro (Selection brand) and Overwaitea Food Group (Western Family brand), will soon introduce skipjack products sourced from pole and line fisheries – a fishing method that catches tuna one by one, minimizing the impact on other species. Both retailers jumped up the ranks this year, along with Pastene for its commitment to move to 100% pole and line or FAD-free skipjack.

“While Clover Leaf has been sourcing from overfished tuna stocks and harmful fishing methods, its competitors are starting to offer consumers sustainable alternatives,” adds King. “Clover Leaf’s huge footprint on marine life is bad for our oceans and will, ultimately, prove bad for business.”

The Greenpeace Canada ranking is part of a global campaign calling on brands and retailers to phase-out tuna from destructive fisheries like longlines and purse seines using FADs. Greenpeace seeks to create marine sanctuaries in the high seas areas of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean where most tuna are currently fished.

Click here to learn about your brand of choice and urge the bottom brands to change their tuna.