Greenpeace USA 2017: Ranks Tri Marine 4th in the green category
With the closure of Tri Marine International’s cannery operation in American Samoa, a global environmental group has called on the Washington state-based company to use its clout to ensure that more responsibly-caught tuna replaces destructive tuna currently lining supermarket shelves across the U.S.
Greenpeace USA made the call yesterday in releasing its second-ever canned tuna ranking, which placed Tri Marine’s product Ocean Naturals at 4th place, while criticizing the nation’s three largest US brands — Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee, and StarKist — of continuing to hold the industry back from the sweeping changes that are desperately needed.
According to Greenpeace USA the tuna ranking evaluated the sourcing policies and practices of 20 brands, including whether the fishing method used to catch their tuna harms other marine life, whether they avoid shark finning, and whether they can trace their products back to the sea.
In this year’s ranking, Whole Foods joined Wild Planet, American Tuna, and Tri Marine in the green category, identified as the best choices for American consumers, according to Greenpeace USA in a news release, which was sent out last Friday but was embargoed until yesterday morning.
Specific details of Greenpeace rating of 20 can tuna products are found on www.greenpeace.org.
Of the 20 canned tuna product ranked by Greenpeace, StarKist “Chunk Light Tuna” was placed last — at the bottom of the list. Greenpeace’s verdict says, “Failed again! StarKist continues its trend of ocean destruction.”
StarKist corporate spokesperson Michelle Faist said, the company declined to participate in this Greenpeace survey, which StarKist found, after a detailed review, that the “methodology [used] was arbitrary, unscientific, and did not meet basic standards for a credible research instrument.”
“In addition, the survey did not appear to be constructed with adherence to any independent protocols or peer review,” Faist said yesterday morning responding to Samoa News inquiries. “The metrics used to assess the results are hidden from view and cannot be verified or replicated.
Furthermore, “the survey questions themselves reflect the public policy agenda of the Greenpeace organization, and not those of any other group in the scientific and fisheries management communities—groups with actual standing and expertise in these issues.”
Faist notes that the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) brings together the world’s leading authorities in fisheries management, including scientists, environmentalists, and industry specialists — all of whom devote considerable resources and focused study to ensure the very best practices for protecting tuna stocks and reducing bycatch of non-target species.
“Yet Greenpeace has consistently refused a longstanding invitation to take part in that collaborative effort or to acknowledge in any way the contribution of the ISSF to the sustainability of the global tuna fisheries,” she said.
“StarKist and its employees are committed to leading the global seafood category by providing great-tasting and healthy products that meet the needs of today’s consumers and customers, while remaining committed to responsible practices,” she said. “We will continue with that commitment.”
Greenpeace notes, among other things that StarKist product labels provide no information about the tuna inside cans. Additionally, StarKist is not transparent about the origins of its tuna and refused, yet again, to provide Greenpeace with meaningful information about its operations.
StarKist — owned by global seafood giant, Dongwon — has the largest market share of any canned tuna brand in the U.S, according to Greenpeace, which notes that this is the second time StarKist scrapped the bottom of the Tuna Guide.
Greenpeace claims that “StarKist’s failure to take sustainability seriously is devastating the oceans — all while it continues to sell cheap and dirty tuna nationwide. It is not only the lowest-ranked brand, but along with other failing brands, it’s dragging down the industry.”
“StarKist must work to ensure healthy oceans, or the day may come when Charlie the Tuna is no more,” it says.
For Tri Marine, Greenpeace USA’s verdict shows that the company “provides responsibly-caught tuna” It says, among other things, that Ocean Naturals product labels provide information about the fishing method that helps customers ensure they are making a better choice.
Additionally, Ocean Naturals’ website provides customers clear information about the sustainability of its products. Furthermore, Tri Marine has a public commitment against destructive practices like shark fining and reflects this commitment by offering pole and troll caught albacore tuna.
However, Tri Marine “needs to be more clear about how it ensures social responsibility in its supply chains,” according to Greenpeace, which also says that Tri Marine — one of the largest tuna traders in the world — introduced a few years ago Ocean Naturals product that offered a clear alternative to destructive national brands.
“The closing of Tri Marine’s American Samoa processing plant leaves questions about the future and direction of Ocean Naturals,” said Greenpeace. “Tri Marine must continue to help lead the industry in the right direction and use its clout to ensure that more responsibly-caught tuna replaces destructive tuna lining supermarket shelves.”
Last December, Tri Marine closed its Samoa Tuna Processors Inc., cannery operation, laying off some 700 workers.
Tri Marine didn’t immediately respond to Samoa News questions and a request for comments.
The top can tuna product, tying at first place is ‘Wild Planet’, which is found in stores nationwide, and ‘American Tuna’, a San Diego-based company founded by six pole and line fishing families.
For the nation’s three largest tuna brands — Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee Seafoods, and StarKist — they “failed yet again, and have shown little improvement to their policies and practices,” said Greenpeace USA.
Chicken of the Sea, owned by global seafood giant Thai Union, was ranked the highest of the three US brands for its policy positions on sustainability and human rights, but the company must do more to show its suppliers are meeting those requirements, according to Greenpeace USA.
“It’s no secret that the big three tuna brands in the U.S. are holding the rest of the industry back from the transformative change we need,” said Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaigner David Pinsky. “It’s unfortunate that tuna giants like Chicken of the Sea continue to talk a good game on sustainability and human rights, yet have not made the changes needed to shift a destructive industry.”
Samoa News wasn’t able to obtain at press time statements from Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee.
Last Thursday, Bumble Bee announced that it has signed an agreement with Pacifical to purchase and promote MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified tuna coming from eight member countries of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA).
Bumble Bee president and CEO Chris Lischewski said that about 25% of the global catch of tuna comes from this region and “we’re proud to partner with Pacifical to raise additional awareness of their commitment to social accountability, food safety and traceability.”