StarKist Tuna Parent Company, Dongwon, Faces Criminal Charges in Africa

March 13, 2013

Troubled brand also under litigation for short-weighting canned tuna in US

Seoul, 13 March 2013 -- StarKist Tuna’s parent company, Dongwon Industries, is facing criminal charges in Africa for forging government documents, including a fake fishing license and doctored official correspondence.  Greenpeace is calling on the South Korean government to call the company’s fleet home, conduct an investigation into their vessel’s activities, and prosecute as necessary.

African authorities caught a Dongwon-owned purse seine tuna fishing vessel, F/V Premier, using a fake fishing license in Liberia in 2011 and 2012. The company then sent a letter, forged to appear from the Liberian Bureau of National Fisheries, to the Korean government implying that the allegation of illegal fishing was a misunderstanding. The same forged letter was also sent to African governments seeking new fishing licenses for the Premier.

The government of Liberia has asked the Korean government to investigate the Premier violations. Eight member countries of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission have already refused Dongwon's ship entry into their waters, and the United Kingdom and European Union have issued warnings against entry of illegally caught fish.

"StarKist will clearly do anything to make a profit, whether it’s faking official documents or slaughtering tens of thousands of sharks, turtles, and other animals through its unsustainable fishing practices. Consumers deserve better than this," said Casson Trenor, Greenpeace USA’s senior seafood markets campaigner.

Dongwon Industries has a history of illegal fishing and ranked at the bottom of Greenpeace’s Korean sustainable tuna guide last year. Under Korean law, a vessel caught fishing illegally can have its license revoked, and in case of repeated offense its highest executive can face up to 3 years in jail and millions in penalties.

Greenpeace is campaigning for the tuna industry to abandon destructive fishing methods, reduce industrial fishing capacity and to support a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world’s oceans. These are necessary steps to restoring our oceans to health and to maintaining ample fish for future generations.

These troubles comes on the heels of a lawsuit recently filed in California that accuses StarKist of fraud for misrepresenting the amount of tuna in its products.  

Jeonghee Han, Greenpeace East Asia oceans campaigner (in Seoul), +82 2 3144 1995
Travis Nichols, Greenpeace USA communications (in Washington D.C.), 206 802 8498
Steve Smith, Greenpeace International communications (in Amsterdam) +31 643 787 359

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