Return to sender: Clover Leaf’s canned oceans destruction doesn’t belong on Canadian supermarket shelves

greenpeace pays a visit to clover leafAs part of our campaign to defend our oceans, Greenpeace paid a visit to Canadian tuna giant Clover Leaf Seafoods’ headquarters to return the company’s unsustainable canned tuna products with a silver platter containing simulated remains of the types of marine life wasted to fill the brand’s cans.

Two Greenpeace Canada activists dressed in shark costumes held banners designed as giant tuna can labels reading ‘Clover Leaf doit changer de thon’ (Clover Leaf must change its tuna, in French) and ‘Clover Leaf kills more than just tuna’, the same message that was written in fake blood on the office doors. Hundreds of canned tuna products were unloaded on the office floor under the company’s display case. These products had been cleared from a supermarket shelf the day before and replaced with a sign notifying customers that the products had been returned to Clover Leaf and wouldn’t be available until the company changes its policy. An invoice for the true cost to the oceans was handed over with the letter to Clover Leaf’s Vice President of Marketing who received our delivery on behalf of their CEO.

While the action was going on at headquarters, Greenpeace volunteers were putting  caution signs over Clover Leaf products in the canned tuna section of busy supermarkets in Toronto. For the last couple of weeks, Greenpeace volunteers in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto have been out speaking with the public and Canadian consumers about the problems with Clover Leaf tuna and promoting a parody of a commercial produced by the company a few years ago. The spoof features one of the sharks that helped make the delivery today, and it takes a humorous approach to warning customers about the other marine life that is collateral damage in the wasteful fisheries supplying Canada’s largest tuna brand. Check out the spoof video below and the original can be seen here.


clover leaf tuna Changing Clover Leaf’s policies became a priority for Greenpeace Canada following a ranking of Canada’s canned tuna brands in February 2011, in which Clover Leaf placed 11 out of 14. Despite the company’s sustainability policy and participation in sustainability forums, Clover Leaf’s CEO has yet to commit to changing what the company puts in its cans and source more responsibly-caught tuna.

Greenpeace’s global campaign in major tuna markets is urging companies to stop selling tuna caught by wasteful fishing methods. Much of the tuna found on supermarket shelves comes from large-scale fishing vessels using purse seine nets set around fish aggregation devices (FADs), which are used to attract tuna. These FADs also attract other ocean life including threatened sharks, juvenile tuna and even turtles, which get caught in the nets and are often thrown back into the sea injured, dead or dying. Clover Leaf also sources from longline fishing operations that set thousands of baited hooks in our oceans, catching luring turtles, sharks, and even sea birds. The platter delivered today contained a shark fin with the Clover Leaf logo cut out of it, a turtle head and an albatross foot – three species impacted by these types of fishing methods.

Major tuna brands and supermarket chains around the world are switching to more sustainable sources of tuna and supporting oceans protection through the creation of marine reserves - wildlife sanctuaries at sea. Tuna brands and Canadian food retailers are beginning to follow suit, seeking out more responsibly-caught tuna and discontinuing yellowfin tuna – a species found on Greenpeace’s Redlist.

Greenpeace is encouraging Clover leaf customers to join our ‘return to sender’ action today to help send a strong message to the company that more than just vegetarians care about the oceans and Canadians deserve better than shelves full of unsavory tuna. We’re asking people to write a message on the back of any product label that you may have in your cupboards and send them into the company. Find the address and how to take further action here.

Sarah King is an oceans campaigner based in Greenpeace Canada’s Vancouver office.