Talley’s might not be a household name in New Zealand, but you probably have some of their products in your home. Notoriously opaque, Talley’s is the New Zealand company involved in fishing, as well as producing frozen vegetables, chips, and dairy products.  

Unfortunately, Talley’s has a far from ideal reputation when it comes to protecting the environment they profit off. 

Not only do they bottom trawl – a highly destructive fishing technique that decimates marine ecosystems – their staff led lobbying efforts to promote less protection from bottom trawling in the South Pacific this year. Not to mention that their subsidiary company Amaltal have been in trouble for allegedly illegally bottom trawling in a marine protected area.

In November 2020, Talley’s was found guilty of bottom trawling in a protected area off Kaikoura. That’s despite dogged attempts from Talley’s to scapegoat the skipper, claiming he was responsible for fishing in the restricted area and not the company.

Back on land Talley’s manufactures milk powders through subsidiary Open Country Dairy, and they’ve recently pushed for permission to double the amount of wastewater they excrete into the already polluted Waitoa river. This is the same river they received a record fine dumping noxious discharge into last year; it’s the fifth time they’ve been caught breaking this consent. 

At a certain point, a series of events becomes a pattern. It isn’t just that Talley’s is a passive participant in polluting industries, this is a company that actively pursues the expansion of its environmentally destructive practices for more profit. 

Talley’s is also infamous in employment courts – with a litany of historical litigation brought against the company from employees and unions. Issues range from health and safety lapses, to unfair dismissals, to union claims over treatment of employees. The company can afford to fight these legal battles; their employees arguably less so. 

The company trades not only in produce, but also in political influence. In the lead up to the 2017 election, Talley’s were the second biggest donors to election campaigns. They were also named in the latest round of New Zealand First Foundation scandals, as it was revealed earlier this year that the managing director and company made donations totalling tens of thousands of dollars to the Foundation. The New Zealand First Foundation is now under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office. 

There are a lot of incredible food producers in New Zealand; producers who genuinely put people and the planet at the heart of what they do. During the period of economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, how we spend our money matters. Let’s put our money behind the producers who uphold the values of what matters to most of us: honesty, decency and environmental protection. 

Read more about why we must protect seamounts for the health of the ocean.

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Orange Roughy caught on Trawler
Ban Bottom Trawling on Seamounts

At home and far out to sea, our oceans are being plundered for profit by the fishing industry through bottom trawling. But what is bottom trawling and why is it so destructive to ocean habitats?

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