We are now at the final stage our Ocean Defenders Tour 2012 for the Korea leg at least but look out for the next few months while the Esperanza continues her journey to Taiwan, Hong Kong and through to the Pacific.
It was a bit sad that we lost the chance to talk to the people of Ulsan because of the typhoon and we had to cancel our open boat activities to share our message. But it also reflects the reality of seafaring life – weather determines everything.
In this tour, we have hoped to show the Korean public the overfishing crisis facing our oceans, problems associated with Korea's so called scientific whaling plans, and the desperate need for support to manage the ocean resources sustainably.
When we did our canned tuna ranking in Korea, it showed which tuna brand is least responsible due to their sourcing and fishing practices. This led us to cover the entrance of Dongwon's headquarters currently ranked at the bottom of our ranking with a fishing net and big fishbone with a slogan that says “Dongwon Korea's No.1 Ocean Plunderer”.
And now, we found a purse seine fishing vessel, exactly the type of boat that uses destructive fishing techniques belonging to Dongwon – the Granada.
What to do with such an ocean plunderer?
Expose it some more! The Korean public needs to know what is in their canned tuna and how bad their most popular canned tuna brand is.
The vessel MV Granada is part of Dongwon's 16 purse seining fleet -- the biggest in Korea (they also have 22 longliners and 4 reefers) built in 1981 actively plundering the oceans for more than 30 years. Dongwon's fleet is known to use fish aggregating device (FAD), a very harmful way of fishing which kills other marine life known as bycatch, like sharks, whales, turtles and juvenile or baby tuna -- 45% of their purse seiner tuna catch are caught with this deadly device. With FADs it's worse, the bycatch rate is higher by 20% compared to free school or non-FAD seining. Dongwon's FAD purse seine ships catches tuna in the Pacific then sends most of tuna products to the US and Korea.
The Granada is being repaired so it can go back to the Pacific ocean. It has fishing license in Papua New Guinea waters.
Greenpeace activists put a huge banner at the mouth of the dry dock with a message - "Dongwon's Destructive Fishing Starts Here". This is no easy task. At 25 meters in length, the banner is so heavy, and with a little wind it is like setting a sail.
This is the most difficult non-violent direct action Greenpeace has ever done in Korea, so far.
Greenpeace has received the attention of Dongwon since we launched the tuna ranking report two weeks ago and we are in discussions. However, the company still does not guaranteed any solid commitments to improve the sustainability of their catch and canned tuna products.
As the biggest tuna company in Korea with more than 50% market share of canned tuna market, Dongwon should stop destructive fishing practices like going 100% FAD free and start sustainable fishery. They should committ to ensuring healthy oceans to future generations so they too can eat fish and continue to fish. Further, Dongwon should show leadership by becoming a role model on sustainability and persuade the government to support conservation measures. What it should not is lag behind other brands.
Greenpeace is campaigning for tuna brands to improve their sustainable policy. Tuna companies should commit not to use destructive fishing method including FAD with purse seine fleet and to support for a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world’s oceans. These are both necessary steps to restoring our oceans to health and to maintain living oceans and with ample fish for future generations.
Image © Alex Hofford / Greenpeace