Greenpeace blockades fishing vessel to send sustainability message to Foodtown

Press release - August 7, 2009
Greenpeace activists have stopped a fishing vessel leaving Auckland harbour and are calling on the Foodtown supermarket chain to stop selling orange roughy and implement a sustainable seafood policy. (1)

The 45 metre Seamount Explorer has been blockaded by activists in life rafts, who have locked themselves to a chain encircling the ship. Banners are being held up saying: "Foodtown - costing us our oceans". Another two activists have locked themselves to the structure of the ship and fishermen onboard have responded by turning high pressure hoses on them.

Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner Karli Thomas said the peaceful direct action was part of a continuing campaign to save New Zealand seas from overfishing and destructive fishing practices. In May this year, Greenpeace released the report While Stocks Last - Supermarkets and the Future of Seafood (2) outlining the link between seafood retailers, consumers and the fishing industry.

"We're taking action today to highlight how Foodtown and other supermarkets are fuelling a demand for unsustainable seafood caught using destructive fishing methods like bottom trawling."

New Zealand's supermarkets are run by two companies, Progressive Enterprises (the owners of Foodtown) and Foodstuffs, putting these companies in a powerful position to affect change, she said.

Supermarkets in North America and Europe, which had adopted sustainable seafood policies, were taking New Zealand-caught species like orange roughy and hoki off their shelves as it failed to meet sustainability standards.

Last month United Kingdom supermarket Waitrose confirmed it refused to stock New Zealand caught hoki, despite its sustainability accreditation by the Marine Stewardship Council, as it was caught by bottom trawling. (3) It removed New Zealand orange roughy from its stocks in 2005 for the same reason.

"Despite continued encouragement our supermarkets have not yet chosen to help protect our fisheries, our fishing industry, the marine environment or New Zealand's clean, green reputation.

"Foodtown and other supermarkets have a responsibility to safeguard our fisheries both environmentally and economically. They need to send a strong message to the fishing industry that they will only stock seafood which is truly sustainable and harvested using methods which are not destructive to the marine environment."

Thomas said the Seamount Explorer, owned by Anton's Seafoods Ltd, was the target of the action as, at this time of year, it was fishing for orange roughy which was under serious threat from unsustainable fishing. Three New Zealand orange roughy fisheries have been fished to collapse and closed - the most recent in 2007.

"Foodtown is supporting vessels like this to harvest orange roughy by bottom trawling, one of the most unsustainable catch methods that destroys everything in its path including fragile deep sea ecosystems and centuries-old coral - it's the equivalent to clear-felling our native forests."

Orange roughy is at the top of the Greenpeace Red List of 12 species of commercially caught seafood which should be avoided due to sustainability issues and destructive fishing methods. (4)

Greenpeace is also calling for a network of fully-protected marine reserves covering 40 per cent of the world's oceans to safeguard them against the ravages of climate change, restore the health of fish stocks, and protect ocean life from habitat destruction and collapse.

Other contacts: Karli Thomas, Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner, 021 905 582 Phil Crawford, Greenpeace New Zealand communications officer, 021 2299 594

Notes: (1) (2) (3) (4) Photos from the action will be available on the Greenpeace media gallery

Exp. contact date: 2010-11-06 00:00:00