Greenpeace’s expedition in the Indian Ocean detected a harmful fish aggregating device (FAD) linked to UK tuna company John West despite the company’s promise to phase out the use of the destructive fishing practice.
The crew onboard the Greenpeace ship, the Esperanza, revealed footage of near-threatened species including silky sharks under fishing gear deployed by the Talenduic - a French vessel which supplies John West.
Sharks are commonly caught using FADs alongside large purse seine nets before being discarded as so-called “bycatch”. The device was removed and dismantled to avoid nets being set around it and causing harm to marine life.
‘It’s grisly business-as-usual for John West,’ said Hélène Bourges, Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace.
Citizen research coordinated by Greenpeace has found cans of John West tuna in UK supermarkets which can be traced to the Talenduic using the company’s “can tracker” technology on its website.
Despite a commitment made in 2011 that 100 per cent of its tuna would be caught using FAD-free and pole & line methods by the end of 2016, it was revealed in October 2015 that John West had reached a dismal 2 per cent. With just months left to reach its target - John West does not seem to be implementing any substantial changes to its supply chains.
John West is owned by Thai Union, the world’s largest tuna producer, which also owns the French brand Petit Navire, also supplied by the Talenduic. Thai Union have repeatedly been found to use harmful and destructive fishing methods and have been linked to human rights abuses in their supply chain.
“If it were not such a serious matter for the world’s oceans and marine life, John West’s progress on its sustainability commitment would be laughable,” Bourges stated.
FADs attract a large volume of marine life and, when large nets are set around them, all kinds of creatures can be hauled up, including sharks and even turtles.
FADs are also causing overfishing through the catching of baby tuna, which compromises the ability of the stocks to reproduce at a sustainable level.
The Esperanza is identifying and removing the devices on an expedition that is uncovering the destructive fishing practices of Thai Union and its suppliers.
“People want the tuna industry cleaned up. They want to know the tuna they eat has not been caught using methods that threaten and harm endangered marine wildlife,” the campaigner pointed out.
“The UK tuna market is moving towards 100 per cent sustainable tuna. Yet John West stick out like a sore thumb. Their hollow promises have to stop and clear action has to be taken,” Bourges concluded.