Activists at Sea Call ‘Lights Out’ on Thai Union’s Destructive Seafood Supply Chain
by Perry Wheeler
May 25, 2016
Indian Ocean – Activists on board the Greenpeace ship Esperanza chased a controversial vessel at the heart of Thai Union’s supply chain from its moorings today, in the latest in a series of global protests against the tuna giant’s destructive fishing practices. Thai Union owns Chicken of the Sea and supplies retailers like Walmart in the U.S.
Nine activists in inflatable boats delivered a cease and desist letter to the deck of the Explorer II, a supply vessel habitually mooring itself to an underwater seamount as part of a controversial practice linked to overfishing using high-powered lights. The crew then returned to use spray-paint to black out some of the array of lights ringing the decks.
Arifsyah Nasution, Ocean Campaigner at Greenpeace South-East Asia on board the Esperanza, said: “We first spotted the Explorer II when we saw it glowing from miles away at night, beaming lights directly into the water, likely intended to attract fish for other vessels to scoop up. It’s a highly contentious practice and it’s no surprise people are calling for a crackdown on it. We knew we had to address it directly.”
This intervention at sea follows blockades and demonstrations around the world against Thai Union. In the past week, activists in New Zealand blockaded a Thai Union-supplied Whiskas facility; hundreds of people in the UK, US, France, Italy, and Canada removed Thai Union’s tuna cans from their local supermarket shelves; 25 activists shut down and rebranded a Thai Union processing facility in France, and activists in Bangkok laser-projected a message to Thai Union as the Bangkok Tuna Forum began. 
“Thai Union can’t escape its record of reckless fishing and links to labor rights abuses,” said Francois Chartier, Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace France. “From sea to shelf, a movement of hundreds of thousands of people is coming after them. We’re pulling their destructive fishing gear out of the water, locking down their supply chain, and taking their tuna tins off the shelves until they clean up their act.”
Even at a distance of some 15 nautical miles, the crew aboard the Esperanza was able to see the glow from the lights of the Explorer II.
Nasution added: “The evidence we have gathered points to the Explorer II likely engaging in reckless overfishing – the kind of fishing which is killing marine life indiscriminately, that is emptying our oceans and robbing local fishing communities of their livelihood. We couldn’t sail by and let business as usual continue.”
The Explorer II is owned by Albacora Group, a Spanish company which supplies tuna to Thai Union using harmful fishing gear. Greenpeace is calling on Thai Union to implement sustainable fishing practices and worker-protection, following revelations that Thai Union has been linked to human rights abuses in its supply chain.
At time of release, the Esperanza was still following the Explorer II as it headed back towards land.
Notes to editors
Supermarket protest: https://storify.com/
Factory protest in France: http://oceans.greenpeace.fr/
Laser-projection in Bangkok: https://twitter.com/
The Greenpeace ship the Esperanza is in the Indian Ocean to tackle Thai Union’s destructive fishing practices. The ship has been documenting and extracting so-called fish aggregating devices (FADs), which contribute to overfishing and result in indiscriminate harm to marine life.
Photos and videos will appear here as they become available: http://photo.greenpeace.org/
Perry Wheeler, Greenpeace Media Officer, P: 301-675-8766