Greenpeace Ship Targets John West owner’s Destructive Tuna Fishing in Indian Ocean

Publication date: 19th April 2016

Today, the Greenpeace ship The Esperanza has launched an expedition in the Indian Ocean to tackle unsustainable fishing by the world’s largest tuna company, Thai Union.

19 April, 2016

Supplying one-fifth of the world’s tinned tuna, Thai Union owns major brands around the world, including the UK’s John West. Despite pledges to source 100% sustainably caught tuna, the Liverpool-based company, which accounts for about a third of the UK tuna market, has made only token progress in meeting its commitments and continues to use the harmful method of so-called Fish-aggregating Devices (FADs)

Hélène Bourges, Oceans Campaigner with Greenpeace UK, said:

“John West is still using destructive and wasteful fishing methods which are killing sharks, turtles, amongst many other kinds of fish – some of which are endangered. This method also catches a lot of juvenile tuna and exacerbates the overfishing of certain species in this region.”

“With only months left to meet its original sustainability commitment, the company were pilloried in October last year for only two percent of its take being fished using sustainable methods, when they had promised to be well over 50% by that point. If it were not such a serious matter for the world’s oceans it could almost be described as a laughable effort.”

The expedition is exposing destructive fishing method used by Thai Union’s and John West suppliers, which contributes to overfishing and harm a range of marine life. Some tuna stocks in the Indian Ocean, such as Yellowfin, are on the brink of collapse due to overfishing.

The company has been rocked by media exposes linking it to human rights abuses in its supply chains [1] as well as destructive fishing practices, including the use of FADs, which indiscriminately catch a host of marine life such as sharks and juvenile tuna when used alongside purse seine nets.

Hundreds of thousands of people have already backed Greenpeace UK’s campaign, launched in October 2015, calling on both Thai Union and John West to stop using FADs and to ensure its entire global supply chain is free from human rights abuses.

Activists aboard the Esperanza will document and oppose the destructive practices of fishing vessels supplying Thai Union, to prevent the indiscriminate harm caused to marine life.

“The tide is turning on companies who think they can keep plundering the oceans and turning a blind eye to exploitation in their supply chains,” said Bourges.

“People want to know that the tuna they’re buying doesn’t come at the cost of the oceans and those who work on them. If John West doesn’t want to stop this dirty tuna coming onto our shelves, then we as a movement are going to do it for them by taking action from sea to shelf.”

END

Notes to editors:

[1] Recent investigations, including by the New York Times [http://nyti.ms/1Ktzi9q] andAssociated Press [http://apne.ws/1Q4OJ7R], have found labour rights and human rights abuses in Thai Union’s supply chains. Despite taking some measures in response to these findings, Thai Union’s CEO Thiraphong Chansiri has said “We all have to admit that it is difficult to ensure the Thai seafood industry’s supply chain is 100% clean”. [http://bit.ly/1qGdsuy]

Greenpeace is calling on Thai Union to put in place strict, comprehensive, and transparent procurement standards across all of its supply chains that guarantee, through third party verification, that all of the seafood it uses is free from human rights and labour abuses.

Photos from the Esperanza available here: http://photo.greenpeace.org/shoot/27MZIFJ69P9P9

Media contacts:

Luke Massey, Press & Communications Officer, Greenpeace UK, mobile: +44 (0)7973873155, lmassey@greenpeace.org