As it turns out, Greenpeace’s publicity stunts aren’t just preposterous — they’re dangerous.
Using the Access to Information Act, the Canadian Presspublished excerpts of a declassified government intelligence report on environmental activists’ that places Greenpeace squarely among a “growing radicalized environmentalist faction” in Canada.
This marks the second time in five months that Canadian media has uncovered a threat assessment report that labels Greenpeace “extremist.” Today’s revelation is starkly at odds with Greenpeace’s ludicrous claim that it is a credible, nonviolent organization.
Here are the key findings:
“Criminal activity by Greenpeace activists typically consists of trespassing, mischief, and vandalism, and often requires a law enforcement response.”
“Greenpeace actions unnecessarily risk the health and safety of the activists, the facility’s staff, and the first responders who are required to extricate the activists.”
“Tactics employed by activist groups are intended to intimidate and have the potential to escalate to violence.”
As always, Greenpeace dodges responsibility for causing disturbances to public order and private business and wasting law enforcement resources. Yossi Cadan, campaigns director for Greenpeace Canada, swears, “For 40 years Greenpeace has never behaved violently…We are taking direct actions, but it’s never violent.”
After all of the arrests and fines racked up by all the “direct actions,” protests and harassment campaigns carried out by the “multi issue extremist group,” can anyone take Greenpeace at its word?
Forty-four years ago this month, a biologist named Garrett Hardin delivered a controversial address to a group of fellow scientists on what he called the “Tragedy of the Commons.” Using the example of sheepherders on a common plot of grazing land, Hardin explained a fundamental principle of conservation: A valuable resource is quickly depleted when it is held in common. As most people know from experience or intuition, when something is owned by “everyone,” it’s treated as though it’s not owned by anyone.
The same applies to the oceans and the rich resources that live in it.
ISSF proposes applying practical economic theory to the challenge of long-term tuna sustainability by capping the demand for new large-scale tropical tuna purse seiners. These are the boats that catch a majority of the world’s tuna for the canned market. The ISSF plan also calls for recording vessel data, including how much fish a vessel can carry, so that all participants have the fullest picture of fishing activity. With this data in hand, and once industry stops adding new vessels to tuna fisheries, nations can begin working toward a fair and equitable rights-based management system that restores natural incentives to conserve fish stocks. Read Full Post »
It’s something we’ve been telling you for years. When Greenpeace talks about “emotionalizing” an issue that means . . . lying about an issue. And there’s been plenty of emotionalizing when it comes to canned tuna over the past year. A court in New Zealand has had it with Greenpeace raising money off of deception and found that when Greenpeace claimed 20,000 birds had died as the result of an oil spill there it wasn’t just mistaken, it was deceiving the public after official figures showed 1,300 birds had died from the spill.
The fund raising model that pushes Greenpeace staffers and volunteers alike to bring in the needed $700,000 a day it takes to keep the lights on, is one that makes them almost compelled to exaggerate or outright lie. Just think about it—you can’t motivate your base to donate by describing the loss of 1,300 birds, so you bump it up to 20,000 and see how that plays.
If Greenpeace could stick to the science and facts rather than fundraising, perhaps it’d be less marginalized in the court of public opinion and spend less time losing in actual court.
It would be easy to dismiss IntraFish’s take on Greenpeace’s campaign against canned tuna as merely an opinion, everyone is entitled to one. That particular opinion ultimately suggests the marginalized activist group is likely to “permanently change” how tuna is harvested and sold (Another Win For Greenpeace, March 7, 2012).
But rather than take the easy way, perhaps it is more appropriate to ask IntraFish to actually investigate the very real and negative impact Greenpeace’s demands would have on American families’ diets if they ever came to fruition, while probing the group’s goals for ulterior motives and unintended consequences.
IntraFish quotes hyperbolic Greenpeace campaigners lauding retailers, who are bullied into submission, as “progressive, comprehensive and visionary” but does not do the homework that would expose a campaign that is short on facts and long on fundraising. Read Full Post »
It’s being sold to the public as the “greenest thing afloat,” and when Rainbow Warrior III docks at the Port of St. Petersburg this weekend, green is exactly what it will be after.
Greenpeace’s new $33 million yacht isn’t coming to the Tampa Bay area to study the Gulf of Mexico, gather scientific samples or conduct research. It is coming here to collect something much greener — cash.
When the crew of Rainbow Warrior III greets visitors — and by “greet” I mean repeatedly asking for email addresses — its real purpose will be clear: gather contact information for fundraising pitches.
Just as they did in New York, Baltimore and North Carolina, the yacht’s passengers will conduct no environmental studies, save no endangered species or improve not a single community. But they will gather many more names of people who will soon receive a barrage of solicitations about how Greenpeace desperately needs their help to save the planet. Read Full Post »
In fact, the people who put nutritious and affordable tuna in America’s lunch bags and on dinner tables have been improving the way tuna is found, caught, and kept viable for generations to come. That unheralded success has taken many years of continuous innovation and effort that will surely continue.
Consider the challenge. You are on a small boat in an ocean twice the size of Canada. In that ocean you are looking for only two species of tuna (skipjack and albacore) that roam for thousands of miles. How do you find and catch those fish and little else?
Random nets strewn about would catch everything. A fishing pole in the open ocean would catch next to nothing. Experience teaches us that migratory fish like tuna are attracted to floating objects like tree branches or logs in what is an otherwise featureless aquatic wilderness. These floating objects are known by the technical term Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs), and they make fishing for tuna more efficient. Remarkably, innovations like FADs help keep bycatch — fish caught other than tuna — to less than 5 percent of the total catch.
But no one fishing method is perfect by itself. That’s why tuna fishermen use a variety of gear. As the methods improve, the mix of gear changes. This has been true for years. And as anyone who has dropped a line in the water knows, there is no one method that is 100-percent free of bycatch.
Greenpeace’s Jeffrey Hollander also says that it is becoming harder “to hide from the reality of what is happening to our oceans.”
That’s true… and that’s good news.
What’s happening in our oceans is that fish populations once thought to be on the brink are coming back. And those still facing challenges have sustainability oversight in place. Albacore and skipjack tuna stocks are healthy and thriving. And because of FADs, tuna bycatch rates have never been lower, which means tuna fishermen can better avoid catching other species of fish or sea turtles.
Greenpeace’s says it wants tuna to be caught only with a fishing pole and line, or with no FADs — in other words, with no modern fishing techniques. Think about how that might work in practice. You’d need a lot more boats covering a lot more ocean in search of tuna that could be almost anywhere. That means more engines burning more fuel for more time, enough bait to decimate stocks of bait fish, and a massive new carbon footprint.
If, in reality, this approach is such a bad idea, why does Greenpeace talk about it incessantly? The reason is simple: Greenpeace needs something to talk about.
Notice how they don’t talk about dolphins anymore. Why? Because innovations in tuna fishing like FADs made canned tuna dolphin-free decades ago.
No, the best problem for Greenpeace to attack is one that features an attractive animal and an impossible solution. That way they can raise money for years to come and never actually solve the rhetorical “crisis” they created.
Followed to their logical ends, Greenpeace’s solutions would put companies out of business, and perhaps that’s the goal. But it’s not a sustainable one for Greenpeace, because without the big bad companies to rail against, supporters won’t write checks. So, look for Greenpeace to continue its full-blooded fundraising effort via a half-hearted sustainability campaign.
Gavin Gibbons is the director of media relations for the National Fisheries Institute, the nation’s largest seafood trade association. As NFI’s spokesman, he has been featured in everything from the Washington Post to USA Today and has been the voice of fisheries issues on CNN, NPR, and the Fox Business Network. He is also a featured blogger for AboutSeafood.com andSeafoodSource.com.
On the surface it is easy to regard campaigns by the global environmental activist group Greenpeace as amusingly irreverent or, as PR Week, the trade magazine for public relations professionals, described one such recent attack against the toymaker Mattel, “compelling.” But if any news outlets would ever take a hard, scrutinizing look inside Greenpeace’s media relations tactics, they’d find a method rife with irresponsible harassment, inaccurate claims, and wildly unrealistic demands.
It turns out, for instance, that the broadside against Mattel was based entirely on Greenpeace’s misrepresentation of lab results that the activists claimed “show that packaging used by leading toy brands regularly contains Indonesian rainforest fibre.” But following that Greenpeace declaration and the fawning media coverage that resulted, the very lab that Greenpeace had enlisted denounced them as frauds. “We have not and are unable to identify country of origin of the samples,” the CEO of Integrated Paper Services, Bruce R. Shafer, said publicly. “We are unable to comment on the credibility of the statements Greenpeace has made regarding country of origin.”
The company that sourced the paper materials to Mattel, Asia Pulp & Paper, went even further, pointing out that some 95 percent of the packaging materials came from recycled paper and that the remaining 5 percent is sourced from environmentally certified forests around the world. So, not only was the paper environmentally upstanding, Greenpeace’s PR effort was, as AP&P put it, “completely unsubstantiated and false.”
A similar sort of attack by Greenpeace is currently underway against America’s most well-known canned tuna brands, each members of our trade association. Greenpeace is demanding, bizarrely, that all tuna be caught one at a time with a fishing pole. Seriously. Greenpeace has no answer for what this would cost consumers or the fuel, boats, and labor needed to pursue this antiquated method, one that could never hope to meet global demand.
And although Greenpeace insists it wants a “serious dialogue” on tuna sustainability, here are just some of the outlandish tactics they have been using:
● Posting online videos of violent and sexualized caricatures of the tuna companies’ cartoon mascots, all of which can be readily viewed by children.
● Manipulating unwitting people on street corners to place harassing, scripted phone calls to company switchboards.
● Dressing up a staffer in a plushy shark costume to accost parents and children in supermarket parking lots to tell them that “Nemo” may be killed.
● Encouraging their Facebook followers to place scripted robocalls to tuna companies, many of which include accusations of “rape,” “thievery,” “piracy” and assorted other threats.
Apparently that’s what passes for clever PR thinking at Greenpeace these days. But these are hardly exceptions. Recent campaigns of theirs against other companies have depicted popular children’s characters decapitating a tiger with a chainsaw, shooting a caged polar bear in the head, or having costumed children blown up from space by a “Volkswagen Death Star.”
But the tuna companies are taking a stand on principle. Along with conservationists like WWF and established governing bodies, we are taking part in the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation to protect the long-term viability of the world’s fisheries. Greenpeace, unsurprisingly, has refused a seat at the table.
That’s likely because causing immediate — and well-publicized — commercial harm to the companies they target is their real objective. That’s what gets them media attention, which translates into financial donations. Presumably it also strikes anxiety into future targets of Greenpeace bullying which, like the toymakers, are more likely to cave quickly than confront the accusations, no matter how patently false.
In the same issue in which Greenpeace’s destructive Mattel campaign was praised, PR Week editor Steve Barrett urges that “engagement, trust, and authenticity” ought to be core values, especially in “cause-related” activities. Readers might wonder when the magazine, or any other enterprising journalist for that matter, will apply those standards of examination to Greenpeace for a change.
But when we pointed out to Barrett that Greenpeace falsified lab results in the attack on Mattel — according to the very lab Greenpeace had hired — thereby deceiving the public (and, by extension, his own readers), Barrett was untroubled. “You can’t hide the fact that it got bucket loads of coverage — i.e., objective achieved for GP,” he wrote to us. “We don’t take moral/ethical/political stances … on the PR activities of campaigning groups.”
I somehow doubt the companies being fraudulently targeted would agree. But here’s another important public relations principle that we would encourage our fellow communicators to consider: Don’t let anyone stand between you and your customers with a threat.
For our part, we intend to speak directly to consumers about the ways in which self-interested, radical activist groups are co-opting the press in order to mislead the public about one of the most environmentally sound sources of protein and essential nutrients on the market. So far, it’s been going well. The feedback we’ve received from ordinary consumers indicates they are keenly aware how Greenpeace distorts the record and they know better than to listen to people who lurk in parking lots ranting at people. That anecdotal analysis is backed by a core piece of research: We know of no measurement showing that Greenpeace has the slightest impact on seafood sales.
Gavin Gibbons is the director of media relations for the National Fisheries Institute.
Greenpeace vs. the Tuna Sandwich The attack on canned tuna isn’t about science. It’s about fund raising.
By CHRIS LISCHEWSKI, SHUE WING CHAN and IN-SOO CHO
Over the past few years, Greenpeace has launched numerous crusades targeting our companies for what we do—fish for tuna. Each of its campaigns is more baffling than the one before.
In their latest campaign against tuna, Greenpeace activists have dressed up as bloodthirsty sharks to ask why a company would kill Disney’s Nemo, and they’ve produced a video featuring one of our brand icons being stabbed in the eye.
This might be attention-grabbing. But it’s not exactly constructive dialogue and it isn’t intellectually serious. No one comes away any more knowledgeable about tuna and sustainable fishing.
Unfortunately, this attack on canned tuna isn’t about science. It’s about fund raising, and Greenpeace has discovered a recipe for success: Target something that’s easily recognizable (like tuna), make some scary claims in the media, parade around in funny costumes—and start raking in the donations. It’s a recipe that Greenpeace has perfected over the past two decades.
But Greenpeace isn’t helping to conserve the world’s tuna stocks. In fact, the campaign against tuna fishing is doing just the opposite. It has become a sideshow that is trying to sabotage a serious sustainability partnership between dedicated conservationists and the fishing community. Read Full Post »
Today New York Times blogger Mark Bittman asks the question, is it Time to Boycott Tuna Again? His column was based entirely on information provided by the activist group Greenpeace. While we recognize his work was presented as his view, we challenge the New York Times not to let ignorance of subject and a lack of research hide behind the cloak of opinion. It is recognized and appreciated that the Times should maintain strict separation between editorial and opinion content; however, the standards under which both are produced should be universal.
Mr. Bittman writes about the current state of canned tuna sustainability. He apparently failed to do much research (at least he presents none in his piece) other than repackaging Greenpeace talking points.
Nowhere does he mention the work already being done by responsible, mainstream environmentalists through the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), agroup created through a partnership between WWF, the world’s leading conservation organization, and canned tuna companies from across the globe. Nowhere does he mention the commitments these companies have made, the global recognition they have earned, or the millions of dollars they expend in sponsoring research for conservation groups and the tuna community. This appears an odd omission when opining about tuna sustainability.
Does Mr. Bittman even know about this group or the stakeholders from throughout the environmental community who work with them? Read Full Post »