Perhaps feeling the pressure from consistent criticism of their juvenile and immature methods, Greenpeace’s latest Carting Away The Oceans “report” represented a touching effort to show that they could act like grownups by putting out a document that included relatively few full-page pastel illustrations and zero cartoonish fish in top hats. Of course, they never bothered to address the core critique of their previous reports: that they never explain how their policies would actually help the environment, and provide zero transparency on their completely arbitrary scoring system.
The report is still a step up from their usual tactic—getting teenagers in plushy fish costumes to harass families at grocery stores—but the blip in maturity was short-lived. This week representatives from the major tuna companies and sustainability partners are meeting in Bangkok to host discussions on the current state of ongoing efforts. In the name of contributing to the conversation, Greenpeace has decided to… don those plushy costumes again and direct messages at the tuna industry filled with profanity. While this is a family-friendly blog, we can say that both a Twitter campaign and a number of harassing phone calls have made liberal use of a four letter word that starts with ‘F’ and ends with a ‘K’.
Some habits appear hard to break, and for Greenpeace, ignoring the science and succumbing to the lowest common denominator is such a habit. While the people who actually care about sustainability are hard at work, Greenpeace is content to further marginalize themselves with base comments and streetside harassment. Is it any wonder no one takes them seriously?
Something that doesn’t get talked about often, perhaps because it doesn’t happen often, is the courage and confidence it takes for a company to stand up to its detractors, and to tell its customers why. In the era of Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and YouTube, most companies fear controversy more than ever, and instinctively hunker down at the hint of any bad publicity, irrespective of the truth. Not only do companies want to avoid confrontation, but they refuse to hold activist detractors’ accountable, validating customers’ suspicions that the detractors may be on to something after all.
That’s why we have to applaud Bumble Bee’s employees for standing up to Greenpeace’s bogus ocean allegations, in full view of its employees and San Diego VIPs including Mayor Kevin Faulcone and Ron Fowler, Chairman of the San Diego Padres. Undeterred by worries over negative PR, Bumble Bee employees seized the opportunity to go “sign to sign” with Greenpeace, calling out the group’s fundraising motives and the lack of scientific data behind its sustainability accusations against the company.
Even local businesses are showing they are not afraid to stand tall against false, and inflammatory claims about the dealership’s business practices. Recently, when a local union picketed one Wichita Subaru dealership for allegedly employing unfair labor practices during their remodeling, the dealership hit back with its own banner and flyer, and posted both on their website along with a detailed explanation of the dispute for their customers. The dealership’s customers stood up in support of the dealership, in large part because they went “banner to banner” against their detractors, and told their customers why the union’s allegations were false.
More companies who have been wronged by unprincipled adversaries can learn a lesson from the likes of Bumble Bee and Subaru of Wichita.
Well, we hate to say we told you so but Greenpeace’s tongue-lashing of Tesco’s introduction of a new tuna label with a predictable supply and a price tag the average UK family can afford should come as no surprise. Three years after many UK retailers decided it was better to commit to an unsustainable and unpredictable pole and line tuna product than challenge Greenpeace’s sustainability accusations, Tesco is feeling the heat from a new public relations campaign from the green monster with even harsher hostility.
We don’t like to see Tesco in this situation. But not only was the latest “rank and spank” of Tesco predictable, it serves as a cautionary tale to American retailers that there is no appeasing Greenpeace. Greenpeace makes demands, retailers acquiesce only to find themselves in the PR spotlight they sought to avoid when Greenpeace claims they can’t keep their promises or worse yet, meet new Greenpeace’s demands because what they did before is no longer enough.
We have a name for this pattern-the Greenpeace Cycle of Abuse. In simple terms, Greenpeace makes demands, the retailer cooperates and then Greenpeace turns around and asks for more.
How do you avoid getting drawn into this vicious cycle? It sounds simple but just say no. Greenpeace claims the moral high ground and threatens media attention. But the media, when confronted with the science and Greenpeace’s extreme antics and fundraising modus operandi, are not so quick to buy in to Greenpeace claims of destructive fishing practices. Talk to your canned tuna suppliers about the serious and ongoing commitments they are making in the future health of tuna partnering with marine scientists and conservation groups including WWF through the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation. When Greenpeace comes calling, you can feel a whole lot better about saying no to being a victim
Phil Radford, the Executive Director of Greenpeace USA, has announced that he will be stepping down from his position at the end of April. As a tribute to Radford and his work, we’ve put together a timeline of his efforts to steer American families away from canned tuna, one of the most nutritious and affordable foods available, by making false claims about its sustainability. Please join us as we take a look at back at his work, and wish him a farewell that is long overdue.
1. First Radford and Greenpeace tried to claim that skipjack and albacore tuna stocks are in trouble. Turns out they were just making stuff up.
2. When the USDA, the Institute of Medicine and Harvard, along with the leading medical associations in the U.S. all reaffirmed that tuna is heart-healthy and boosts baby brain cognition, Radford and Greenpeace put on their thinking caps to invent more wacky theories about tuna sustainability.
3. While America’s leading tuna companies continue to work with the scientific community to keep tuna healthy for generations to come, Radford and Greenpeace keep busy by dressing up in costumes and dancing in parking lots.
4. Next, Radford and Greenpeace demanded that all tuna be caught one-at-a-time with a fishing rod. When asked how much more that would cost in fuel, labor, time, and carbon emissions — Greenpeace said nothing. Apparently, they hadn’t even thought about it.
5. Undeterred by logic, facts, shame, or ridicule, Radford and Greenpeace launched a number of bold, new initiatives, including cosplay in a grocery store. . .
6. . . . And a shoddily made Pac-Man ripoff.
7. Most non-profits would be worried about alienating donors by wasting money on pointless antics. Not Radford and Greenpeace! Instead, they doubled down and bought a luxury yacht.
8. It has multiple hot-tubs! And a helicopter!
9. But when they released “Carting Away the Oceans”, a comic book that claims to be a report on sustainability, not a single mainstream news outlet paid attention. Turns out that when companies stand up for their own integrity and the facts, it’s harder for the news media to give Greenpeace a free ride.
10. Faced with mounting irrelevance in the public discussion over seafood, Radford and Greenpeace held a high-level strategy meeting.
11. After deep thought and serious consideration…
12. Phil Radford decided it was time to leave the spotlight.
13. Bon voyage, Phil. We hope your legacy of Gangam-style dance videos, yacht parties, protests in plushy costumes and knock-off video games are real résumé builders you can point to with pride when you tell them about your tenure as U.S. fundraiser-in-chief.
The seafood trade publication IntraFish recently published a story on the decision by a number of UK grocery stores not to participate in the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS), an environmental activist group based out of the United Kingdom, “Supermarket Seafood Survey.” MCS tells IntraFish that retailers who opt out of the survey “are keeping consumers in the dark when it comes to choosing sustainable seafood.”
Unfortunately, IntraFish didn’t ask why some of the UK’s biggest and most successful grocery stores, including notable companies such as Tesco, Asda, Lidl, Spar and Budgen, are refusing to have any part of these surveys. But it certainly fits with what we are seeing on the other side of the pond, where U.S. grocers are refusing to be measured by bogus, non scientific survey results from activists with ulterior motives. We believe more and more companies are seeing past the threats and realizing there is simply no upside to participating in reports like Greenpeace’s alarmist “Carting Off the Oceans” (CATO) report, which lack transparency and are methodologicallysuspect. In fact, we know that some large retail brands have learned the hard way that cooperating with activist extremists doesn’t insulate them from continued attacks; it only invites more aggressive demands for future concessions.
Thankfully, the seafood industry is beginning to realize that for Greenpeace and other activists, the point of these stunt surveys isn’t to advance sustainability, but to drum up publicity—and donations.
In a recent interview Greenpeace campaigner Casson Trenor and Rainbow Warrior III Captain Joel Stewart discussed their thoughts on the canned tuna business. The only problem? Their imaginations don’t line up with reality. Watch for yourself!
A recent CNN post by Zak Smith, a lawyer for the notorious NRDC, insinuates that American consumers of popular seafood like canned tuna are complicit in the killing of whales. But the piece is inaccurate and incomplete in a number of ways.
Smith writes that “91% of seafood consumed in the United States is imported and nearly every wild-caught foreign fish product sold in the U.S. violates the Marine Mammal Protection Act, endangering the lives of marine mammals around the world.” While the overwhelming majority of fish in the United States is imported (though most estimates peg it at 85 percent, not 91 percent), less than half of it is wild-caught. And of the amount that is wild-caught, tuna comprises a large—perhaps the largest—share. What Smith leaves out about the tuna Americans eat is that all of it is sourced from fisheries that follow tough, widely recognized dolphin-safe fishing practices.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time the activist trial lawyers at NRDC have used scare tactics and faulty information to scare Americans away from safe seafood to sustain its own fundraising. And we’re sure it won’t be the last.
Oceanographer and National Geographic “Explorer-in-Residence” Sylia A. Earle made a bizarre claim about tuna on Twitter:
“Did you know that it takes 100,000 lbs. of plants to grow one lb. of tuna? A pound of chicken takes two pounds of plants!” Earle wrote in a tweet dated November 25.
We’re not sure where Earle learned math, but not only are her numbers wrong—her premise is faulty. None of our tuna is “grown” on farms the way the chicken she uses as an example is. All of our tuna is wild-caught, just as mankind has caught fish for eons. There is some experimentation in tuna aquaculture (you may have heard it called “tuna farming” or “tuna ranching”) but in those cases, tuna are fed small baitfish like sardines, herring, and anchovies, not plants. And the “feed conversion ratio”, which is the phrase farmers and ranchers use, is exponentially smaller than the 100,000-to-1 ratio Earle cites.
It’s possible that Earle gets the 100,000 number by counting not just everything tuna actually eat, but everything eaten by everything tuna actually eat, and everything eaten by everything eaten by everything tuna actually eat, and so on, all the way down the food chain to plankton. If you find this a confusing and odd choice, you’re not alone.
The fact is that, unlike the chicken in Earle’s inapt analogy, we don’t “feed” our wild-caught tuna anything in order to “grow” them. Mother Nature determines the tuna’s diet, not us, and they would eat what they eat whether or not we fished for them.
Greenpeace’s John Hocevar recently took to Intrafish to log his response to a letter we wrote applauding reporter Cormac Burke’s November story “Leading From the Back Line”in which Burke admirably peels back Greenpeace’s rhetoric to look at the reality beneath the surface. Hocevar’s posturing response is sadly typical of the bombastic organization he helps run, and it further demonstrates how important it is for the seafood community and value chain to see Greenpeace for the paper tiger it is.
We asked whether Greenpeace ever conducted an environmental impact study on the fishing methods it advocates. That is, wouldn’t their sourcing scheme actually require more fuel, boats, labor, and resources to meet current demand than prevailing methods? They don’t say.
And what about the economic impact on both companies and consumers of reduced supply? Greenpeace ignores that too.
Is the stro-turfing and harassment, in which Greenpeace enlists Internet followers to make crank calls reading from prepared scripts, an acceptable form of dialogue? Is it intellectually serious when they publish cartoon graphics with violent imagery that can readily be seen by children? Greenpeace has no answer for either. Those questions are not “misdirection,” as was lamely suggested. Indeed, they get to the very heart of the disconnect between real, roll-up-your-sleeves problem-solving and the manic fundraising effort necessary to keep a $700,000 a day organization afloat.
With a straight face, Greenpeace insists on being taken seriously on tuna sustainability. Yet their “ocean campaigners” dress up as clowns and dance around in parking lots. They claim to have scientists on board their mega-yacht, yet they have never produced any empirical data on the environmental and economic impact of their demands, or on public opinion of their methods.
While Greenpeace staffers are hosting hot tub dance parties and filming synchronized swimming routines (yes, really), a consortium of actual scientists, NGOs, and industry experts that are meeting to collaborate on maintaining the health of canned tuna stocks. As NFI has documented, it has been nearly 900 days since Greenpeace has had an open invitation to take part in those discussions, under the auspices of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation. We are still waiting.
Stripped of bluster, the only substantive assertion that remains in Hocevar’s letter is mere repetition of Greenpeace’s long falsified claims against the paper industry, in which Greenpeacecited“testing [that] shows the packaging used by leading toy brands regularly contains Indonesian rainforest fibre.” But in a published letter following Greenpeace’s splashy publicity stunt, the head of the lab they hired to conduct the testing rejected Greenpeace’s conclusion, writing: “[We are] only able to determine the types of fibres present in such samples. We have not, and are unable to identify country of origin of the samples. This type of assertion would need to be based on data outside of our findings. Therefore we are unable to comment on the credibility of the statements Greenpeace has made regarding country of origin.”Whatever “chain of custody research” Hocevar alludes to was never cited in its original press release (instead they misrepresented the lab’s findings), it is not linked in Hocevar’s letter, and it cannot readily be located anywhere on Greenpeace’s website.
Unfortunately, the company they attacked in that instance caved to Greenpeace in what we know is the Greenpeace “cycle of abuse”—and that’s entirely the point. Strong-arming companies into concessions, by using the threat of negative publicity and a carnival barker’s disregard for the truth, is Greenpeace’s way of keeping the cash donations flowing. That’s big money too, coming from deep-pocket foundations, even though Hocevar falsely insists“it comes wholly from individual supporters.”
The final point in our original letter is one Hocevar offers no response to at all, so it is worth reiterating: from all the public opinion research that has been done, it is clear that consumers and the public can see right through Greenpeace, too.