Kiwi's footage of tuna scandal gains global audience

Friday 2 December 2011, 4:52PM
By Greenpeace New Zealand

A New Zealand whistleblower’s shocking footage of marine life dying at the hands of industrial tuna fishers in the Pacific Ocean has gained a global audience.

The Youtube video has had more than 114,000 views since it was released by Greenpeace two weeks ago. It shows whales, marlin and a ray killed as a result of a fishing method which catches far more than just tuna. The video release has received media coverage in Australia, Asia, Europe, the USA and Canada.

The video can be viewed here:

“People are outraged by the obscene waste of ocean life shown in this footage,” says Greenpeace New Zealand Oceans Campaigner Karli Thomas.

A New Zealand helicopter pilot shot the gruesome scenes while working as a spotter for tuna boats in the Pacific in 2009. To protect him from reprisals Greenpeace has disguised his identity. The vessels were using a destructive fishing method where fish aggregation devices (FADs) are used to lure tuna but also attracted a range of other creatures which are then caught in purse seine nets.

This is the same destructive fishing method used by the fishing fleets that supply Sealord, New Zealand's biggest canned tuna brand.

Thomas says about 200,000 tonnes of this bycatch is caught annually by the global tuna industry’s destructive practices.

“That’s the equivalent of more than one billion cans of bycatch needlessly destroyed every year (1).”

In April Greenpeace launched a campaign urging New Zealand’s five main tuna brands to stop sourcing tuna caught using the combination of FADs and purse seine nets. Pams (2) and Greenseas (3) have both committed to change with Pams introducing more sustainable alternatives this year.

“As New Zealand’s largest supplier of canned tuna Sealord should be ashamed to be associated with a fishing method that lays waste to so much ocean life. While Sealord defends indiscriminate FAD fishing their competitor Pams has become a market leader in tuna sustainability in New Zealand by switching to FAD-free and pole and line caught tuna,” says Thomas.

“Banning FADs in purse seine fisheries is an important step towards protecting the Pacific from destructive tuna fishing which is threatening tuna stocks and the region's food security and economic prosperity.”