A tale of two tunas

Posted by Hélène Bourges — 15 February 2016 at 2:39pm - Comments
Fish gather under Fish Aggregating Device (FAD)
All rights reserved. Credit: © Paul Hilton / Greenpeace
All kinds of marine life gather under so-called "Fish Aggregating Devices" - or "FADs" - and are then scooped up in huge fishing nets

Imagine a world where there are two tuna companies called John West.

Both are the number one brand in their market. Both faced Greenpeace campaigns and, as a consequence, made commitments to sell 100% sustainably-caught tuna by the end of 2016.

Now imagine one John West has kept its promise to consumers. And the other John West has broken it.

This isn’t some fantasy world. It’s very real. And it’s not good news for UK consumers...

Back in October 2015 Greenpeace UK lifted the lid on tuna giant John West’s broken sustainability promise to consumers.

Despite publicly committing to sell 100% sustainably-caught tuna by the end of 2016 – it had reached a dismal 2%. Oh and it missed its “50% by 2014” deadline along the way. People were outraged – and rightly so.

Millions of you followed our campaign in the media and on social media – and over 90,000 of you took action – calling on John West to honour its commitment to stop plundering the oceans. You bombarded their office with phone calls and emails, while we rocked up outside their headquarters with a giant tuna tin broadcasting their failure.

So imagine our delight in the Greenpeace UK oceans team last week when we saw headlines saying “John West meets tuna commitment for sustainability”!

Unfortunately it wasn’t to be.

But the reports were true.

John West Australia – an entirely separate company to John West in the UK – had announced its complete transition to FAD-free tuna sourced from the Pacific.

FADs are “fish aggregating devices”, which act like fish magnets, drawing in tuna and other marine life, making them easier to find and scoop up in giant nets. But this method also results in the indiscriminate catching of everything from baby tuna to other marine life such as sharks and turtles.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific produced a tuna tin in the shape of a turtle to protest against John West Australia's destructive fishing practices

With John West Australia accounting for 40% of the Australian market, this is a huge victory for the oceans and Australian consumers – as well as for our Aussie colleagues.

For a long time, the tuna industry told us our demands to stop using FADs amounted to an impossible ask.

As our Australian counterpart Nathaniel Pelle says, “By rejecting FADs, John West Australia has met the commitment they made to Greenpeace and our supporters way back in 2012. But the breakup wasn't easy for them. For a long time, the tuna industry told us our demands to stop using FADs amounted to an impossible ask. They've come a long way.”

And what a long way John West in the UK has to come. But the announcement of John West Australia is proof that it is possible to source tuna sustainably.

John West UK has offered no solid argument to explain why they're so far from reaching their commitment. Although they continue to claim on their website sustainability is so important to us”, UK consumers shouldn’t be fooled by what remains a green smokescreen with no concrete actions.

So we’re not going away – and we’re going to keep fighting with you to make sure that John West UK’s tuna doesn’t come served up with the destruction of marine life. Join the campaign now and watch this space!

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