Princes tinned tuna linked to mass deaths of marine life

Press release - 9 January, 2011
Amsterdam, 9 January 2011 -- Food giant Princes has been ranked as the least sustainable tuna brand in the UK market a new Greenpeace ranking report reveals today (1).

The Japanese-owned food and drink company uses fish aggregation devices (FADs) along with massive nets known as purse seines to catch the majority of its tinned tuna, resulting in vast amounts of by-catch including sharks, turtles and juvenile tunas (2).  

“Endangered sharks and other species are killed every year while catching tuna to be put in tins. And, despite the hugely misleading claims on their cans, Princes are the worst of the lot. It's time for Princes to follow other industry leaders and stop selling tuna caught using methods which cause the deaths of sharks and many other marine animals,” (3) said David Ritter, Greenpeace UK Oceans Campaign manager.  

By contrast those that top the Greenpeace UK league table – Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer -- use tuna caught with pole and line, a traditional method of fishing that minimises the catch of other species, and are among those that have pledged to support a proposal made by eight Pacific Island countries to set aside large areas of international waters around their borders as a fully protected marine reserve. This is an important move towards restoring the region’s declining tuna stocks.

“There is a clear solution for Princes and the fishing industry as a whole: stop using wasteful fishing methods. Consumers need to buy responsibly-caught tuna, producers and retailers must ensure their tuna products are sourced sustainably and equitably and all should support the movement for a global network of marine reserves. These actions will help secure healthy oceans with ample fish for future generations,” said Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International Oceans Campaigner.

Greenpeace is campaigning for a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world’s oceans and for a more sustainable fishing industry, both necessary steps to restore our oceans to health. Greenpeace is working with retailers across Europe, Japan, Australia and the Americas to increase the market share of sustainably-sourced tuna.  


Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner (in Taiwan), tel: +31 655 125 480  

Steve Smith, Greenpeace International communications, tel: +31 643 787 359  


(1) See full-report: 'Tinned Tuna's Secret Catch'.The UK is the second largest consumer of tinned tuna in the world. Tesco, one of the world’s largest retailers, performed a swift u-turn when it learned that it was due to be ranked joint-last with Princes in Greenpeace's league table following a Greenpeace investigation of the global supermarket giant’s own-brand tinned tuna. It capitulated over the weekend and promised to source tinned tuna only caught using the environmentally friendly pole and line method by the end of 2012.

(2) FADs are floating objects often equipped with satellite-linked sonar devices. Tuna instinctively gather around them, which some scientists think is for shelter and protection. But FADs also attract a host of other species including turtles and sharks, as well as juvenile tuna that are scooped up by purse seines. These nets form a huge curtain that encircles the catch and then closes around them. On average, every time this method is used, 1kg of other species will be caught for every 9kg of tuna. See D. Bromhead et al, ‘Review of the impact of fish aggregating devices (FADs) on tuna fisheries’. Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, 2003.

(3) Princes states on its tins in the UK: “Princes is fully committed to fishing methods which protect the marine environment and its species”. Greenpeace UK is now calling for Princes to recall all its tinned tuna because false claims on the packaging are misleading customers.