These Are the Videos the Tuna Industry Doesn’t Want You to See
by John Hocevar
July 28, 2015
Today, we’re releasing five new video testimonials from Pacific tuna fishermen detailing the horrible conditions they’ve worked under. The interviews—conducted in a South Pacific port earlier this year—reveal incidents of abuse, inadequate or nonexistent pay, food and sleep deprivation, and even murder.
As investigation after investigation after investigation continue to expose the poor state of the fishing industry, it’s becoming more clear than ever that American consumers can’t trust the seafood they feed their families. In the case of these particular fisherman, the horrific human rights abuses at sea are directly connected to the tuna industry, confirming that tuna companies have major work to do in order to clean up their supply chains and win back the trust of consumers.
Watch These Stories of Abuse at Sea
Trigger warning: these videos contain descriptions of violence that may be disturbing to some viewers.
Fishermen are often subject to bullying or intimidation for speaking up, meaning the harrowing stories captured below are hard to come by.
These videos were shot in a South Pacific port earlier this year. Three of the videos feature current or recent tuna fishermen from Indonesia, whose identities have been masked for their protection. The other videos feature an unmasked fishermen from Fiji, who details abuse from his time on a tuna boat ten years ago, revealing just how long these issues have been prevalent in the industry. Many of the men our team spoke to would not go on camera for fear of retribution against themselves or their family.
“If the people above you are hitting you, then we are not being treated as humans, but more like animals.”
“It was about one and a half years we worked for nothing. No salary at all.”
“I feel sorry for my friend. He was thirsty at 1am and there wasn’t any water. So he drank water from the air conditioner.”
“I saw his fingers, they were missing. I asked what happened.”
“So you’ll have two to three hours sleep then you’ll start again in the morning.”
These brave individuals and others like them are shining a light on the long history of abuse and slavery on tuna fishing vessels. Greenpeace has worked on tuna sustainability issues for years, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that we must all work together to address the deeply ingrained human rights issues within the industry, as well.
Labor abuses and slavery that destroy the lives of workers and their families, and overfishing that destroys ocean life are both issues that stem from an out of control and under regulated industry. Greenpeace and a range of allies across the environmental and human rights movements are working to transform the tuna industry into one that is both just and sustainable.
As consumers, we should all be questioning where our tuna comes from.
In both the recent New York Times investigation and an Associated Press investigation in March, Thai Union—owner of Chicken of the Sea and soon Bumble Bee in the United States—was directly implicated for major human rights abuses and slavery at sea. This raises a glaring red flag that the largest tuna producer in the world has undeniable connections to this issue.
These stories—and the thousands of others like them that have gone untold—are a call to action for the tuna industry. Now more than ever, leaders must emerge to show that they take these issues seriously and are committed to addressing them in their global supply chains. There are a variety of solutions that companies and governments can begin implementing today that can address both the human rights abuses that are rampant and sustainability concerns.
Tuna fishing has become destructive for both people and the oceans—and it must be reformed immediately. Tweet at your favorite tuna company to let them know that you want them to proactively implement the solutions that will protect people and our oceans:
- Tweet at Bumble Bee: It’s unacceptable that tuna fishing is linked to human rights abuses. @BumbleBeeFoods, what actions are you taking?
- Tweet at Chicken of the Sea: I’m calling on @COSMermaid to take action on human rights abuses in the tuna industry. You can too.
- Tweet at Starkist: .@StarkistCharlie, are you playing your part to address human rights abuses in the tuna industry? We deserve to know.