Greenpeace urges consumers and investors around the globe to avoid Thai Union Group canned tuna

Owner of Chicken of the Sea canned tuna in the US connected to forced labor, human rights abuses and environmental devastation

Press release - October 7, 2015
Manila— Greenpeace recently launched a global campaign demanding that the world’s largest canned tuna company, Thai Union Group (TU), take urgent and far-reaching steps to eliminate labor abuse and destructive, wasteful fishing practices from its supply chains. In the US, TU owns Chicken of the Sea, which also faces mounting pressure from both consumers and concerned environmental, labor and human rights advocates to clean up its act.

“We can no longer allow Thai Union Group and its brands around the world, including Chicken of the Sea, to sacrifice the world’s oceans and jeopardize workers at sea,” said Greenpeace USA Seafood Markets Lead Graham Forbes. “For far too long Thai Union Group has passed the blame onto others and hidden behind ineffective policies. Until this industry giant takes responsibility and demonstrates real leadership, we will work to ensure that every single customer knows it’s not just tuna that comes with buying one of its tainted brands.”

In response to investigations and media reports connecting Thai Union to human rights abuses, forced labor and destructive fishing methods, Greenpeace offices on Friday contacted the company demanding a detailed work plan and schedule for moving toward lower-impact fishing techniques and increased oversight, traceability and transparency at sea. Thai Union and its subsidiary brands primarily catch tuna using two fishing methods, purse seining with fish aggregating devices (FADs) and longlining. These methods result in high levels of bycatch of sharks, turtles, juvenile tuna and seabirds, and are often associated with illegal fishing and violations of human and workers’ rights.

Implications in human rights abuses and forced labor have brought reputational and legal risks, as three class-action lawsuits have already named Thai Union as the supplier of fish caught via forced labor and used in Chicken of The Sea canned tuna and pet food brands in the US.

“The tuna industry is out of control, emptying our oceans of fish, harming marine life and exploiting workers at sea,” said Vince Cinches, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Oceans Campaigner. “As the largest canned tuna company in the world, Thai Union has a responsibility to clean up its act and move the industry in a positive direction.”

Last October 2 Greenpeace Philippines released the results of a cannery ranking survey that found 8 out of 9 local canneries failing on traceability, transparency and equity measures.  Although Century Tuna got a “fair” grade and fared better than its counterparts, the company was still short of a “good” ranking.  Century Pacific Foods, which owns Century Tuna locally, also ships tuna to Chicken of the Sea in the US.

“The tuna business has complicated relationships and supply chains, but many of these large companies are all interconnected.  We have a right to know where the tuna in our can comes from and how it was caught. There should be transparency and traceability in the business,” added Cinches.

Last week, the European Union (EU) issued a yellow card to Taiwan for its failure to take action against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which is often associated with labor abuses. Taiwanese flagged and owned tuna vessels supply Thai Union brands around the world. Earlier this year, the EU also issued a yellow card to Thailand for its failures on IUU fishing. As the largest seafood company in Thailand, Thai Union’s actions could help determine whether the country is issued a red card, which would mean a complete ban of Thai fisheries products in the EU market.

In the US, the 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report maintained Thailand at the bottom-ranked tier 3 level and noted the Thai fishing industry as a problem area. The annual report places countries onto one of three tiers based on the extent of their efforts to comply with "minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking." In addition to action from Thailand’s government, industry giants like Thai Union could help avoid future sanctions by taking steps to clean up seafood supply chains.

Greenpeace has ranked Thai Union Group brands in its canned tuna rankings for major markets around the world. In the US, TU’s Chicken of the Sea brand failed the most recent canned tuna ranking on both sustainability and human rights.

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For more information about the campaign, click here: http://tuna.greenpeace.org/

Investor brief sent to Thai Union Group shareholders

Executive Summary of the Philippine Tuna Cannery Ranking

Media contact:

Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Philippines)
Email:  Mob: +63917-5363754   

Therese Salvador, Media Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Philippines)
Email:   Mob: +63917-8228734

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