For years, Greenpeace activists have relied on a complicit press to parrot their half-baked sustainability rhetoric and cover their harebrained publicity stunts targeting tuna brands all over the globe and the retail customers who carry them.
But after bombarding retailers and the larger public with too many empty gimmicks — meaningless petitions, disturbing videos, nitwitted protests — and unsupported accounts of environmental “carnage” and “destruction,” Greenpeace has created a major problem for itself. Reporters, no longer willing to accept Greenpeace’s claims at face value, are starting to question the eco-activists’ motives, data and failure to contribute meaningful solutions.
Seafood News’ Editor and Publisher John Sackton is just the latest to criticize Greenpeace for promoting gross distortions about seafood sustainability. He writes:
“The statements from Greenpeace … show just how divorced from scientific reality they are. The people they are reaching are being deliberately misinformed. … More reputable sources, including the FAO and the scientific assessments of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, show that tuna is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring, except within the big-eye complex, where too many juvenile fish are being caught.”
But that’s not the only reason why Mr. Sackton disapproves of Greenpeace:
“Greenpeace is silent on the steps industry is taking to address the problem – such as eliminating nets from FADs which reduces shark bycatch by 90%. If they admitted things can change, their audience would lose interest. In the same way, few conservation groups can acknowledge the tremendous success that U.S. fisheries management has had, because to do so diminishes their role as outside critics.”
Mr. Sackton also notes that Greenpeace’s annual retailer rankings report is pointless:
“The report evaluates retailers mostly on how they interact with Greenpeace, including removing fish Greenpeace asks them not to sell.”
In short, Mr. Sackton has dug a little deeper and sees the true Greenpeace: fringe, unserious and desperate. It’s just a matter of time before other reporters hold Greenpeace accountable for using them to spread sustainability tall tales.
Sailing the Indian Ocean equipped with Google Earth, binoculars, helicopters and a penchant for falsified data, Greenpeace activists aboard their personal cruise ship are desperately searching for a crisis. They’re not trying to “help end overfishing and create sustainable fisheries” as they claim, but rather pass off exaggerated and false information as the truth to get more donations.
Greenpeace campaigner Aaron Gray-Block writes that “all tuna species in the Indian Ocean region are showing signs of decline” and that “destructive fishing techniques such as purse seines with Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs)” are wreaking havoc.
But the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), a science-based organization that partners with the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), conservationists and regional fisheries management organization (RFMOs), shows otherwise. According to ISSF’s data-driven analysis, there is no overfishing crisis. Scientists have found that Indian Ocean “stocks of bigeye, yellowfin and skipjack are not overfished and are not experiencing overfishing, and therefore no immediate management measures are needed for these stocks.” In addition, “bycatch rates for FAD fishing” in the Indian Ocean are “relatively low.”
Still, albacore stocks in the Indian Ocean are being overfished, and small amounts of bycatch are being caught. That’s where ISSF’s scientific research, advanced monitoring technology, fruitful collaboration with fisherman and innovative methods come in. Consider that ISSF scientists are tagging different fish species to collect detailed data, or that they’re studying ways to limit bycatch using an underwater census. ISSF has also proposed strong recommendations for the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), such as “reducing catches by at least 20% from the current level” and “adopt[ing] comprehensive catch retention measures for all purse seine-caught tuna.”
ISSF has proven that Greenpeace’s “solutions” come with very serious consequences. If Indian Ocean fisheries switch from purse seining to pole-and-line — Greenpeace’s be-all and end-all fishing method — it “would actually result in a six fold increase in catch of non-target species and double the fuel used in the fishery. It also costs more to catch a ton of tuna by pole-line than by purse seine.” Of course, Greenpeace failed to consider these costs because they do not conduct economic impact studies.
Obvious to everyone but Greenpeace campaigners, canvassing tuna fisheries requires more than random yacht patrolling, helicopter flybys and haphazard “analysis.” And since Greenpeace has long-since established that it prefers hosting dance parties, protesting in costumes and programming rigged video games, it’s best it stops making exaggerated claims and leaves the high seas altogether. The real experts are working.
As its annual retailer harassment campaign begins again perhaps it’s time Greenpeace answer a few questions rather than ask them
Reporters tempted to turn a quick story out of an impending Greenpeace press release about American retailers’ seafood sustainability practices are challenged to actually report, rather than regurgitate, by asking Greenpeace a few questions. The unscientific survey and report has become the embodiment of media groundhog day and white noise for those involved in real sustainability efforts.
NFI is urging reporters that if a release about this does make it to your desk, consider asking Greenpeace a few questions before putting it in the circular file:
One of Greenpeace’s reports urged Americans to “eat less fish. Reducing seafood consumption now can help lessen the pressure on our oceans.” Yet researchers at Harvard University found that low seafood consumption is the second-biggest dietary contributor to preventable deaths in the U.S., taking 84,000 lives each year. Does Greenpeace know that it’s jeopardizing the health of Americans? Does it care?
Greenpeace refuses to reveal the methodology used in its grocers survey. Yet academic and research organizations routinely open their methodologies to scrutiny. What are Greenpeace activists hiding?
Greenpeace has called on retailers to only stock canned tuna caught with poles and lines. Yet only 2 percent of canned tuna sold is currently harvested this way. How would Greenpeace ensure there is enough affordable tuna to meet consumer demand?
What kind of environmental impact studies has Greenpeace done on its recommended sourcing methods? What kind of economic impact studies has Greenpeace done on how it would raise the cost of, for instance, canned tuna for customers?
Are Greenpeace’s efforts to frighten the public by falsely distorting the true health of tuna stocks in any way related to fundraising?
Sources have put Greenpeace’s budget at $700,000 a day. How much of that goes for peer-reviewed research? How much is spent on publicity?
Greenpeace spent an incredible $32 million of donor money on the Rainbow Warrior III, a party boat used to make fundraising videos. Wouldn’t those millions have been better used for scientific research and serious sustainability efforts?
The largest U.S. canned tuna brands are working with WWF, the world’s leading conservation group, and marine scientists through the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation to ensure the continued health of tuna for generations to come. Why has Greenpeace repeatedly declined an open invitation to participate in these collaborative efforts?
Retailers and the seafood community routinely work with seafood-certification programs like the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and participate in fishery improvement projects to provide consumers with sustainably caught fish. Why does Greenpeace not recognize the work of these reputable certification programs but then take credit for their success?
Rather than take active part in discussions with governmental leaders, industry representatives and conservation groups, Greenpeace representatives instead demonstrate outside these meetings, often dressed up as cartoonish sea creatures. Does Greenpeace expect that experts in sustainability or the public itself should take seriously any points raised by activists dancing in plushy costumes?
Before you fill out Greenpeace’s seafood sustainability survey, it’s important to remember what this activist group is really all about.
While you’re working hard to buy seafood certified by third-party auditors, participate in fishery improvement projects and incorporate best practices into your policies, Greenpeace activists are dressing up in silly costumes to garner publicity and more donations.
Last week, we introduced you to Greenpeace co-founder, Dr. Patrick Moore, who candidly explained why Greenpeace cannot afford to participate in science-based dialogue and activities to ensure the health of tuna stocks.
In this 60-second clip, Dr. Moore reveals how the Greenpeace fundraising model works: propaganda, misinformation, and fear.
In all of their campaigns, Greenpeace activists expect companies to trust their stated objectives, believe their evidence and implement their extensive demands.
There’s just one major problem: Greenpeace has no credibility to influence — let alone inject itself in — serious discussions about environmental and health issues. Long ago, they disqualified themselves from the ranks of serious conservationists, scientists, and researchers by resorting to immature, violent and counterproductive tactics. Greenpeace activists may be able to boast about picketing in plushy costumes, vandalizing buildings, trespassing private property, creating meaningless online games, and placing harassing phone calls, but they sure don’t have science, reason and authority on their side.
A new education initiative from the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) documents ongoing manipulation of facts, self-serving tactics, and ulterior financial motives behind Greenpeace’s annual seafood sustainability survey and ranking of U.S. grocers.
Called “Your Pain, Their Gain,” the campaign exposes Greenpeace as a science-averse, marginalized organization that doesn’t care about helping retailers develop sustainable seafood policies — only fundraising to sustain its $700,000/day operating budget.
Privately, retailers acknowledge that Greenpeace — by its own admission — does not endorse any seafood certification programs and is not active in Fishery Improvement Projects. Retailers who know sustainability are looking for these benchmarks and Greenpeace simply does not meet them.
“This survey has nothing to do with sustaining the world’s oceans; it’s all about sustaining Greenpeace,” added NFI spokesperson Gavin Gibbons.
NFI’s campaign, hosted at www.tunafortomorrow.com/retailers, will include infographics, videos, and analysis. The site will feature case studies of high-profile companies in different industries that have continued to suffer from unrelenting Greenpeace confrontation even after meeting its initial demands.
“Greenpeace engages in what we call a cycle of abuse,” Gibbons said. “It unilaterally decides to target business and make unrealistic, endless demands; harass employees and customers; appeal to donor generosity to thwart made-up crises; and claim victory when businesses capitulate.”
With every published edition of Greenpeace’s Carting Away the Oceans report, there is less and less media attention. In 2012, the report received almost no mainstream coverage.
“Grocers are far better off communicating their sustainability efforts directly to their customers,” Gibbons said. “Besides, no matter what they tell Greenpeace, it’s never good enough. Greenpeace will always criticize them.”
It’s pretty telling that Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore has not only spent decades exposing the organization’s anti-science, alarmist approach to environmentalism but also has written a book about it.
Like Dr. Moore, we believe Greenpeace’s radicalism is harmful to people and the environment and undermines the collaborative, productive efforts being taken by serious conservationists.
Watch this short video to learn more about the “real” Greenpeace:
Greenpeace activists say that all tuna should be caught one at a time with poles and lines. But catching tuna is not that simple.
The fact is, four different kinds of tuna species make up canned tuna, each one varying in size, weight and habitat. Likewise, fishing gears have different capabilities — and tradeoffs such as fuel usage. These factors must be considered in order to minimize costs to the environment and impact on consumers’ wallets, as well as maximize efficiency.
Notwithstanding, if fisherman relied on just one sourcing method, tuna companies would not be able to meet global demand — negatively impacting “more than a billion people [who] depend on fish as their primary source of protein.”
Unlike Greenpeace campaigners, who make demands without considering scientific facts and the consequences of their ideas, the tuna industry has heavily invested in the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) to find the most advanced, sound ways to fish tuna and ensure healthy stocks.
To learn more about the different gears, check out our infographic:
“The game is so much fun we forgot to name it! So now we need your help! … Help us launch this game out into the world to help save oceans from the tuna industry destruction.” — Travis Nichols, media officer, Greenpeace USA
This week, Greenpeace introduced another big ticket and impractical technology tool to save us from ourselves — a yet to be named computer “8-bit Pac Man-style adventure [video game].” And for just a small donation (toward their $700,000/day operating budget) you can make an activist’s dreams come true…
Of course, helping a pixelated “baby shark escape from the supermarket tuna aisles of death,” is a lot more fun when you’re tanning on the foredeck of Greenpeace’s $32 million yacht. In the real world, bycatch mitigation, eliminating illegal fishing, reducing overcapacity, and other tuna stock health efforts are not fun and games but real work.
As one serious-minded marine biologist explains:
“We can’t do it all our ourselves by standing on the outside beating a drum… We get much greater advances if we work very closely with like-minded partners that are actually part of the system.” — Dr. Bill Fox, vice president, WWF and vice chair of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation
We’re not asking for your money — the fishing industry invests millions of dollars to fund research, buy monitoring technologies, and reward innovative improvements in fishing gear. But given the choice, would you still donate hard-earned cash to launch “Medieval Tuna Reloaded”?