Greenpeace urges New Zealand tuna giant Sealord to change its tuna, not just its logo

June 2, 2011 12:39

So, New Zealand tuna company Sealord is changing its logo. It seems its brandidentity is so important that it's only concerned by what appears on the outside of its tuna cans and not what's filling them, reports with reference to Greenpeace.

Sealord doesn't go out and catch its own tuna in the Pacific - it buys it from other fishing companies. Sealord knows these companies use indiscriminate fishing methods - methods that are known to kill endangered sharks, turtles and baby tuna - but Sealord has chosen to do nothing to stop this shameful and needless waste of ocean life.

Sealord has also chosen to ignore the call from more than 7,500 concerned consumers in the last month urging it to start selling sustainably caught tuna. Sealord says the bycatch problem is complex and there's no simple answer.

That's where Sealord is wrong. If it is serious about sustainability it would stop getting its tuna from companies which are using fish aggregation devices (FADs) in purse seine fisheries. If you're still not sure what this fishing method looks like check out our animation.

This morning, Greenpeace New Zealand launched the latest phase of our campaign to get the main brands of tuna to switch from fish caught using purse seines with FADs to more sustainably caught tuna. This is what's happening in overseas markets and it's what needs to happen here which is why we are now focusing our all our attention on Sealord, New Zealand's largest brand of canned tuna.

As Sealord is so caught up with its own image we're helping it with its rebranding. We've changed its slogan from ‘The Seafood Experts' to the ‘The Seafood Exploiters' which is a far more accurate description. We've produced a short video advertising what Sealord is doing to tuna and ocean life in the Pacific and we're asking our supporters to email the company again urging it to live up to the image it is trying to create and become a market leader in tuna sustainability.

At today's launch friendly sharks descended on Auckland's Queen Street to let people know what was going on, hand out information about Sealord tuna and collect post cards from people concerned about what else is dying for their tuna.

When a similar campaign was launched in the UK, we used a line from Charles Clover, author of the "The End of the Line" which charts the demise of tuna worldwide. In it he says; "Caught alongside the skipjack tuna that finds itself inside your tin is almost the entire cast list of Finding Nemo." To be honest, when I first read that quote, I thought it was a bit of an exaggeration. That is, until two years ago when I was on the Greenpeace ship Esperanza as part of an expedition to protect the Pacific Ocean from illegal and unsustainable fishing.

The friends of Nemo are collectively known as "bycatch" and when purse seiner fishing vessels use FADs they catch five to ten times more bycatch than when they set their nets around free-swimming schools of tuna. That's a huge difference, and when you consider that almost 2.5 million tonnes of tuna is caught in the Pacific each year and more than three quarters of that catch is taken by purse seiners, ending the use of FADs in purse seine operations could save many many creatures from dying needlessly for the can of tuna that ends up on our supermarket shelves.

So help convince Sealord to change what's in its cans so that it matches the hype of what's on the outside.

Our work in New Zealand is part of an international campaign to clean up tinned tuna and make it sustainable. Already, our work in the UK has persuaded major retailers like Tesco (the world's third largest retailer) and ASDA (Walmart) and several others to abandon their use of destructive FADs in favour of pole and line fishing or purse seining without FADS. They have been joined by major UK tinned tuna brand Princes.

And in the last week our campaign has expanded into Canada, focusing on their largest tinned tuna brand Clover Leaf, who are so far refusing to change their destructive fishing practices. Greenpeace activists dressed as Clover Leaf employees have been out and about in Vancouver and Montreal this week handing out tuna-less tins containing information about the wasteful bycatch associated with the fishing practices used by Clover Leaf. You can help the campaign by sending a message to Clover Leaf's CEO asking them to clean up their act and support sustainable seafood.

Things are moving along in our campaign to rescue the world's oceans: to reform the global fishing industry and to create a global network of marine reserves. Stay tuned for more updates on Greenpeace's work to create healthy, living oceans.

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