On the ground, activists dressed in shark costumes handed out leaflets to Princes staff as they arrived for work, confronting them with the consequences of the destructive fishing methods used by Princes to catch their tuna (1), while a stereo system boomed out the famous theme tune to the movie ‘Jaws’, from inside a giant mock-up Princes tuna tin outside Liverpool’s landmark Liver building.
“Princes ranked at the bottom of Greenpeace UK’s league table of tinned tuna companies because of their support of reckless fishing practices and that’s why there are dead sharks hanging from their offices this morning,” said David Ritter, Greenpeace UK oceans campaigner. “Killed alongside Princes tuna is almost the entire cast list of Finding Nemo, including rare sharks as well as other important animals facing extinction in the wild. Princes needs to stop sourcing tuna caught using irresponsible techniques and retailers should stop stocking Princes tuna tins until they do.”
Princes is the biggest tinned tuna company in the UK, selling more than a third of all tuna tins in the country (2). The food and drink company, owned by the giant Japanese corporation Mitsubishi, recently appeared at the bottom of the Greenpeace UK 2011 tinned tuna league table (3). The environmental group ranked the UK’s major tuna brands according to the environmental credentials of their tinned tuna products.
By this morning, more than 75,000 people had already emailed Princes executives through Greenpeace web sites asking them to stop selling tinned tuna caught by purse-seine fishing vessels using FADs. FADs, or Fish Aggregation Devices, are man-made objects that are effectively death traps for marine life, because they first attract and then scoop up thousands of sharks, as well as many rays, turtles and sometimes even dolphins along with all the tuna. On average, every time FADs are used, 1kg of these other species are caught for every 9kg of tuna. (4) Juveniles of more vulnerable tuna species are also caught in these fisheries. Earlier this year, Princes were also found to be selling Bigeye tuna - a red-listed species the IUCN describes as at risk of extinction - for less than a pound a tin. (5)
Princes is one of the founders of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), an industry trade group whose stated mission is to ensure the scientifically sound management of tuna stocks. However, ISSF brands and their products regularly fail to lead on tuna sustainability. Just recently two ISSF related brands, Clover/ Leaf/Bumble Bee and Bolton ranked among the lowest in Greenpeace UK’s ranking of Canadian tuna brands, for their resistance to adopting sustainable fishing policies amidst the deepening tuna crisis in our oceans .
”If we want healthy oceans and ample tuna tomorrow, we need both to create marine reserves and curb destructive and overfishing today,” said Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner. “The world’s oceans and tuna are in crisis, thanks in large part to overfishing and reckless fishing methods, which can and should change. Princes and the other ISSF brands need stop making excuses and earn the word ‘Sustainability’ in the title of their association.”
UK retailers Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and M&S have already stopped selling tuna caught using FADs, which is why they topped the Greenpeace UK league table. In January of this year, Tesco made a clear commitment to follow suit and to stop stocking tuna caught this way following pressure from Greenpeace and the celebrity chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. (65)
Greenpeace is calling on supermarket chains and tuna brands to only source from healthy tuna stocks, to avoid illegal fisheries or those that use indiscriminate fishing methods, support equitable fishing agreements and include traceability and sourcing information on product labels. These necessary fishing industry reforms, along with a global network of marine reserves covering forty percent of the world’s oceans, can restore our oceans to health and maintain living oceans and ample fish for future generations.
For more information/ interviews:
Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner (in Hong Kong), +31 655 125 480
Steve Smith, Greenpeace International communications (in Amsterdam), +31 643 787 359
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
(1) There is an info-graphic and further explanation of this fishing method here: http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/media/reports/tinned-tunas-secret-catch (You may reproduce this info-graphic free of charge, but please credit Greenpeace.)
(2) As of November 2010, Princes accounts for 35.9% of the standard tinned tuna market value in the UK and 37.1% of the volume. (source: AC Nielsen Scantrack data 52 WE 13.11.1correspondence with Nielsen 13.12.10)
(4) On average, every time a FAD is used, 1 kg of every 10kg catch will be unwanted juvenile tuna, sharks, rays – sometimes even marine turtles and even the occasional whale or dolphin – and a wide variety of other species, collectively known as by-catch. (source: D. Bromhead et al (2003). ‘A review of the impacts of fish aggregating devices (FADs) on tuna fisheries’, Final Report to the Fisheries Resources Research Fund, Bureau of Rural Sciences, Canberra, ACT, Australia, pp. 122. http://adl.brs.gov.au/brsShop/data/ PC12777.pdf [accessed 9.12.10])
(6) http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/oceans/tesco-escapes-last-place-new-tinned-tuna-league-table-spectacular-policy-u-turn-20110109 and http://www.timesplus.co.uk/sto/?login=false&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thesundaytimes.co.uk%2Fsto%2Fnews%2Fuk_news%2FEnvironment%2Farticle503631.ece