Greenpeace shows the hidden secret of canned tuna

Press release - 2012-09-05
Seoul, 5 September 2012 — Greenpeace released its first-ever sustainability ranking of 3 major canned tuna brands sold in Korea, called “The hidden secret of canned tuna.” The ranking exposes the destructive fishing practices and bycatch problems of tuna fisheries.

In the ranking, Dongwon, the biggest tuna brand in Korea ranks at the bottom, lagging behind Sajo and Ottogi. Greenpeace is urging all tuna brands in Korea to improve their fishing and sourcing policies and to not use destructive fishing methods such as purse seine fishing with Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs).

Korea currently ranks second globally in terms of its tuna catch. According to KOFA Yearbook 2010, the total catch of Korea’s purse seine tuna fishing fleet in 2010 was 278,227 tonnes, 95% of which came from the Pacific. Korean tuna fisheries are plagued by overfishing and destructive Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) that capture ocean life along with tuna, including turtles, sharks, whales and rays as well juvenile tunas and other species at risk of overfishing.

“As the largest canned tuna brand in Korea with more than 50% of market share, Dongwon is lagging behind global leaders on sustainability in the tuna sector.” said Yuen Ping Chow, Greenpeace East Asia senior oceans campaigner. “If consumers knew about the wasted ocean life and imperilled fish caught to produce their can of tuna, they would think twice at the supermarket. Canned tuna is a Korean staple, found in every supermarket chain, but our children may not be able to eat tuna gimbap anymore if the industry does notchange.”

Greenpeace sent out questionnaires to the three big Korean tuna brands in August to ask about the sustainability, traceability, legality, equity, sourcing policy and transparency in their supply chains. This ranking is based on the replies from the companies themselves. Dongwon provided no information on the sustainability of its tuna - the only company that did not respond to the Greenpeace tuna survey. In contrast, Sajo has taken positive steps to improve their products’ sustainability and have a plan to increase fairness of their products by increasing the percentage of tuna sourced from locally owned and operated fleets in the Pacific. 

Both Sajo and Ottogi are in our orange category which means their sustainability policies are weak, especially in comparison to leaders elsewhere. Greenpeace is campaigning for tuna brands to abandon destructive fishing methods including FADs, set on purse seine nets and to support a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world’s oceans, both necessary steps to restoring our oceans to health and to maintain living oceans and ample fish for future generations.