Why Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee Should Recall ALL Canned Tuna

by John Hocevar

March 18, 2016

Yesterday, Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea recalled hundreds of thousands of tuna cans because of health concerns. Real concern about the health of oceans and workers would require a complete recall.

Hannah Fraser, acclaimed mermaid performance artist and ocean activist, with children at Pacific Beach protests Chicken of the Sea's destructive fishing practices and owner Thai Union's human rights abuses.

Hannah Fraser, acclaimed mermaid performance artist and ocean activist, with children at Pacific Beach protests Chicken of the Sea's destructive fishing practices and owner Thai Union's human rights abuses.

© Sandy Huffaker Jr. / Greenpea

The recalled canned tuna was packed in a Georgia plant owned by Thai Union, the largest canned tuna company in the world and owner of Chicken of the Sea in the United States.

I guess it’s nice to finally hear Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea talking about health concerns. But the tuna industry is out-of-control. The companies should extend their concerns to the health and safety of the workers who catch tuna to fill their cans, along with the species they continue to put at risk with destructive fishing methods.

Recall Tuna for Labor Abuse

Fishermen sleep onboard a Taiwanese longliner in Samoa.

Fishermen sleep onboard a Taiwanese longliner in Samoa.

Last year, Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior ship sailed the high seas of the Pacific Ocean and boarded numerous ships that supply canned tuna to the United States. The Greenpeace team documented troubling conditions and labor practices on board, including officers forbidding workers from using the toilet, severely restricting their access to fresh water, and fining crewmembers more than a day’s wages for taking clean water. Greenpeace also discovered that most fishermen make only $75 – $125 dollars a week to bring tuna to American supermarket shelves, though they work up to 20 hours a day for months on end.

Recall Tuna for Ocean Destruction

A smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena) is hauled on-board Taiwanese longliner, Sing Man Yi 6, in the Pacific Ocean. Greenpeace travels into the Pacific to expose out of control tuna fisheries. Tuna fishing has been linked to shark finning, overfishing and human rights abuses.

A smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena) is hauled on-board Taiwanese longliner, Sing Man Yi 6, in the Pacific Ocean. Greenpeace travels into the Pacific to expose out of control tuna fisheries. Tuna fishing has been linked to shark finning, overfishing and human rights abuses.

On every ship supplying Bumble Bee visited by Greenpeace, the crew and captain talked about the amount of tuna they caught, but also species like sharks, marlin, and sunfish.

It’s ironic that these companies are asking customers to throw away their tuna cans right now, which sounds similar to what the industry does with the hundreds of thousands of sharks, turtles, and other marine species it needlessly slaughters. In fact, tuna vessels are responsible for a large portion of the 100 million sharks killed by commercial fisheries each year, many of which supply the shark fin trade.

And these companies claim the current recall was initiated out of an abundance of caution, which seems a bit out of character for an industry that by its own reckoning has overfished 9 of the 23 tuna populations. That puts entire ocean ecosystems at risk!

Recall Tuna for Toxic Shipping Methods

Many tuna vessels also continue to fill their fish holds with fuel, which means the tuna Americans eat could have been stored in compartments previously containing toxic fuel. As ships travel further to chase fish, they use this method to remain profitable and stay out at sea longer.

Take Action

Chicken of the Sea, and it’s owner Thai Union, have only taken piecemeal steps to address labor abuse, ecosystem destruction and health. So far Thai Union has refused to audit their entire seafood supply chain. It’s time they make real changes on the water.

Tweet this blog to let Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee you think it’s time for a complete recall on their dirty tuna.

Sign the petition to Chicken of the Sea demanding it cleans up act!

John Hocevar

By John Hocevar

An accomplished campaigner, explorer, and marine biologist, John has helped win several major victories for marine conservation since becoming the director of Greenpeace's oceans campaign in 2004.

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