Crashing Walmart’s Party to Stop Ocean Destruction

by David Pinsky

June 2, 2016

I'm in Arkansas this week where Walmart’s executives and investors are gathering for the company's annual shareholder meeting. From our airship flying over head to engaging stakeholders on the ground, we’re making sure Walmart can’t ignore the 79,000 people calling for the company to protect our oceans.

Volunteers demand Walmart stop destroying the ocean for cheap tuna.

Volunteers demand Walmart stop destroying the ocean for cheap tuna.

After years of empty promises, excuses, and inaction, we’ve come to Walmart’s hometown to send a message: Attention Walmart — Clean Up Needed in the Tuna Aisle!

Walmart is neglecting to put workers and the environment first, selling destructively fished canned tuna in stores across the U.S. and Canada to unsuspecting customers.

Walmart buys its Great Value brand canned tuna from the largest tuna company in the world, Thai Union Group. Thai Union relies on ocean destruction to supply its tuna and has been connected repeatedly to human rights abuses in its operations. As a major buyer of Thai Union seafood, one would think that Walmart would take swift action granting assurances to its customers that it will only provide sustainable, ethical seafood.

Think again.

Greenpeace flies the A.E. Bates thermal airship at Walmart's world headquarters just two days before the company's coveted annual shareholders meeting.

Greenpeace flies the A.E. Bates thermal airship at Walmart’s world headquarters just two days before the company’s coveted annual shareholders meeting.

Despite very public human rights scandals connected to Thai Union’s operations, Walmart continues to greenwash its seafood sections nationwide. The public can see right through this rhetoric. That’s why more than 79,000 people have joined the call for Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon to clean up the company’s dirty canned tuna.

This week tens of thousands of people are flocking to Northwest Arkansas for a massive, multi-day celebration of Walmart’s global dominance: aka the company’s annual shareholder meeting. This lavish production is like an awards ceremony, teaming with celebrities and pop stars who rally meeting-goers while Walmart executives gloat about the company’s prowess. All this flashy showcasing while the company quietly hides how its weak policies and low prices are wrecking our oceans and putting workers at risk.

While we didn’t get an official invitation from Walmart to join its biggest week of the year, how could we resist? We’re crashing the party because Walmart has left us no choice. Despite repeated efforts to encourage Walmart to improve its canned tuna sourcing, the company has refused to take meaningful action. Walmart is failing its customers, shareholders, and workers throughout its supply chain. The company can clean up its tuna for the benefit of all workers and our oceans. Greenpeace will continue to expose Walmart’s dirty practices with its customers, shareholders, and associates, and call for real solutions.

It’s time for Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and his executive team to demonstrate leadership.

A video truck displays information about ocean destruction associated with Walmart canned tuna near their world headquarters.

A video truck displays information about ocean destruction associated with Walmart canned tuna near their world headquarters.

That’s why we’re taking to the skies this week with Greenpeace’s thermal airship, backed by over 79,000 supporters calling on Walmart to save oceans and protect seafood workers. As thousands look to the skies and see “Save Oceans, Protect Workers,” we’re scooting around town with a mobile billboard truck showing photos of people demanding change. And a second truck will be visiting Walmart stores in Toronto, Canada tomorrow.

Whether you’re in Arkansas or thousands of miles away, you can help urge Walmart to change its tuna. Send a message directly to Walmart executives.

And if you’re on Twitter, take a selfie and tweet to Walmart:

Hey @Walmart, stop ocean destruction and ensure the fair treatment of seafood workers! #WMTshares #NotJustTuna

With your help, we can collectively ensure Walmart commits to provide sustainable, ethical canned tuna in all stores.

David Pinsky

By David Pinsky

David authors Greenpeace USA’s annual seafood sustainability report for the nation’s largest supermarkets, holding major companies accountable and shifting seafood practices that have global impacts on our oceans.

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