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Greenpeace has launched a campaign against the unethical practices of some tuna fisheries. (Photo: Greenpeace)

Greenpeace attacks three tuna multinationals in new campaign

Click on the flag for more information about United States UNITED STATES
Wednesday, August 17, 2011, 03:00 (GMT + 9)

Greenpeace has launched a new campaign called The Tuna Industry’s Dirty Little Secret. The green group stresses that the industry is unethical, completely unsustainable – and hiding its ugly side from the public.

The campaign includes an animated video showcasing the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore to highlight the fact that the canned tuna industry each year brings about the deaths of thousands of endangered sharks, rays, turtles and seabirds. The three big multinational corporations targeted in the video are Starkist, Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee.

Greenpeace asks for the video to be shared so as to spread the word among consumers so they can learn about sustainable versus unsustainable tuna and change their habits when shopping for canned fish. Tuna eaters should only ever buy pole-and-line or FAD-free canned tuna from companies that only catch tuna in managed seas and support the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), the group says.

On its website, Greenpeace explains that the tuna sector has four secrets: fish aggregating devices (FADs), longlines, unregulated fishing in the high seas and stolen fish. These practices help keep canned tuna prices low, but at a high price.

FADs are floating objects that skipjack tuna vessels cast adrift in the open ocean. The FADs are left at sea for weeks, during which time plants, fish and larger animals (including sharks, billfish and juvenile yellowfin and bigeye tuna) establish themselves and form an entire ecosystem -- which is eradicated when the tuna vessel returns and scoops the FADs’ contents in a seine net, Greenpeace explains.

This fishing method amps up bycatch in the skipjack tuna industry by between 500-1000 per cent compared to nets set on free-swimming schools (FAD-free seining). 

Dead turtle. (Photo: Greenpeace)

Customers should therefore only ever buy pole-and-line or FAD-free seined skipjack when shopping for “light” tuna, according to the conservation group.

The industry’s second secret is longlines, which are used to catch albacore. This fishing method is one of the greatest killers of turtles, sharks, seabirds and other non-targeted animals; it is estimated that one-third of the albacore catch is actually bycatch.

When shopping for “white” tuna, one should only buy pole-and-line albacore, Greenpeace teaches.

The industry’s third secret is unregulated fishing in the high seas. Customers should only buy tuna from companies that refuse to fish in the high seas pockets and instead catch tuna in managed seas, Greenpeace says, to ascertain that companies are adhering to quotas and other measures.

The industry’s last secret, Greenpeace comments, is stolen fish.

Countries like the US, Taiwan and Spain have “ransacked” the waters of the poorer independent Pacific Island nations such as Kiribati and Tuvalu, whose populations depend almost exclusively on tuna for their livelihoods. Greenpeace highlighted that companies like Thai Union, which owns the US brand Chicken of the Sea, regularly pillage these waters.

Customers should only therefore buy tuna from companies that support the PNA, an effort by several Pacific island states that have joined to take charge of their fisheries.

Related articles:

Greenpeace reveals third canned tuna ranking, Safcol moves up
Greenpeace launches campaign against tuna firm 

By Natalia Real
[email protected]


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