Environment and labor groups call for fundamental changes in the Philippine tuna industry

Press release - November 13, 2015
General Santos City, 13 November 2015 – At the country’s tuna capital, environmental group Greenpeace today presented the results of their Tuna Cannery Ranking Report for the Philippines. An initial survey of local tuna canneries, the report exposed the lack of transparency and traceability in the Philippine tuna industry and also highlighted cases of human rights abuse in the supply chain.

The cannery ranking came a year after Greenpeace exposed the rampant catching and trading of juvenile ‘baby’ yellowfin and bigeye tuna at the General Santos fishport. These juvenile tuna were found to be less the average size of 1 meter in length and below the weight limit of 500g set by the Fisheries Administrative Order. Environmentalists and scientists say the continued catching of juvenile tuna contributes to the decline of  stocks, not just in the Philippines but globally. 

Of the nine local tuna canneries surveyed this year, eight received a poor rating on transparency, sustainability, and equitability, while only one company was given a fair rating [1], barely making the grade. None of the brands surveyed received a good rating, indicating that a substantial amount of work on tuna industry practices and standards still needs to be done. 

"The cannery ranking results reveal how the tuna industry is plagued with so many ‘scandals’, from the lack of transparency to corporate greenwashing,” said Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines. “With regards to sustainability, we discovered that there are a lot of juvenile tuna being caught through the use of payaos or fish aggregating devices (FADs) in purse seine fishing. This is devastating the tuna stocks, with big eye tuna now down to 16%. We should already be sounding the alarm bells and calling for fisheries closures.”  

In addition to the call for more sustainable fishing methods and transparency in the fishing industry, Greenpeace Philippines also expressed concern over unfair labor practices. A key  criteria in the cannery ranking report was on the equitability of the tuna stocks. The report documents how tuna in some places is being caught by trafficked and abused labor.  The tuna harvested finds its way into supply chains of big players in the tuna industry, companies such as Thai Union, which either owns or have close relationships with tuna companies all over the world, including Century Tuna in the Philippines. 

“We join Greenpeace and other allies in calling on the tuna industry to end destructive fishing, while respecting the labor and human rights of people working across the supply chain,” said Josua Mata the Secretary General of  Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa or SENTRO, an organization assisting the United Workers of Citra Mina Group of Companies (UWCMGCU) which is currently in a deadlock with the tuna company for violating labor standards.

Mata added that unless the tuna industry makes a fundamental shift in their fishing methods and labor practices, it will continue to receive tremendous pressures, like Citra Mina. “We shall stand with Greenpeace and all those workers affected until the company's practices are changed. There can be no sustainable fishing industry until people working across the supply chain are safe and treated with dignity,” Mata said.

Greenpeace and SENTRO believe that across the globe, the tide is shifting towards the need for sustainable seafood. The Philippine tuna industry has no recourse but to reform and adhere to international standards and to what the public demands. 

Globally, consumers are demanding for traceable, sustainable and equitably caught seafood.  There is a new consciousness among people who buy and choose tuna brands that do not jeopardize the very resources that we all rely on,” concluded Cinches. 

 

Note to the Editor:

[1] http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/press/reports/Tuna-Cannery-Ranking-/

 

For more information:

Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines

Email: Mob: 0917-5363754    

 

Josua Mata, Secretary General for SENTRO

Email:   Mob: 0917-7942431

 

Nadine Jacinto, Media Campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines

Email:   Mob: 0977-6927475