Caught, hook, line and sinker?

In an effort to expose John West’s destructive fishing practices Greenpeace protesters have converged on the company’s Melbourne headquarters.

Dressed as sharks Greenpeace activists have erected a giant tuna can and hung a banner over the entrance reading ‘John West slashes ocean stocks’.

“The John West building needed a makeover to more accurately reflect the needless slaughter the company inflicts on marine life each year,” Greenpeace oceans campaigner Nathaniel Pelle said.

The protest is an extension of Greenpeace’s ‘Reject John West’ campaign, which calls on John West to stop using destructive fishing methods and switch to more sustainable ‘pole and line’ or ‘FAD-free’ tuna [fish aggregating devices] and it seems to be having an effect on the consumer.

“Over 15,000 Australians have already emailed John West demanding it change its fishing practices in line with more responsible brands.” Pelle said.

“Australians are ocean lovers and they’ve been outraged to discover that John West is killing hundreds of tonnes of sharks, rays, baby tuna and turtles every year.”

Globally, many canned tuna companies are committed to using FAD-free or pole and line caught tuna. This interestingly enough includes the likes of John West and every brand and retailer in the UK, John West Germany, Safeway in the US, Mareblu of Italy, and Greenseas, Safcol and Sirena in Australia.

John West responded to the protest saying they take the issue of safeguarding ocean resources seriously announcing they have partnered with the WWF to improve the sustainability of their products.

“This partnership will see all John West products sourced sustainably by 2015. Through our partnership John West supports the WWF position on FADs and recognises that if there is no way to source sustainably from FADs, then  only tuna caught without using FADs will be sourced in order to meet our 2015 sustainability goal.” John West said.

“John West’s response to the campaign has been a mixture of greenwash and censorship. We will increase the pressure until the company does the right thing. Unless it switches its fishing methods, Australians should switch tuna brands.” Pelle said.

In October Food Magazine reported John West tuna’s owner Simplot response to its negative listing on the Greenpeace canned tuna guide 2012, saying it “has been working towards improving the sustainability of John West’s products for many years.”

The annual list compiled by environmental campaign group Greenpeace ranks tuna brands according to their efforts to implement and maintain sustainable fishing practises.

This year it ranked John West towards the bottom of the list, saying “John West is the largest seller of tuna caught using destructive FADs in Australia.”

“It is having the most damaging impact on marine life so John West is the stand out culprit of Australia's tuna industry,” Greenpeace continued.

“It has a responsibility to do better.

“Improvements in traceability are welcome, but John West has taken a step back on labelling.”

While Greenpeace recognised that John West has “good traceability,” “supports marine reserves” and has “100 per cent skipjack tuna, mostly from the Western Central Pacific Ocean, it noted the company’s failings as “the biggest seller of tuna caught using destructive FADs with purse seine nets,” and that its “labelling does not include the catch area or fishing method.”

John West slammed the Greenpeace statement that it had 10 per cent by-catch, labelling it false.

It said that the current level of John West by-catch from FADS was 2 per cent.

“The majority of tuna used in our products is sourced from the Western and Central Pacific Ocean purse seine fishery (tuna used in our Pole and Line range is sourced from the Maldives),” the spokesperson said.

“Data collected by independent scientific observers shows that non tuna species comprise less than 2 per cent of the catch in this fishery.

“In addition last year over 60 per cent of fishing activity was undertaken without using FADs – a device used to attract fish.”

Greenpeace continues to campaign globally to ban the destructive use of FAD fishing.

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