Disruption, change and the growing wave against Thai Union tuna

The waves are surging higher around the Esperanza today. We’re headed north towards busier fishing areas, the horizon line heaving up and down as the ship barrels every which way amid the rolling, white-peaked swell.

Waves crash against the Esperanza bow. 12 May 2016. © Will Rose / GreenpeaceWaves crash against the Esperanza bow. 12 May 2016. © Will Rose / Greenpeace

For the past few weeks, we’ve been hunting reckless fishing vessels in the Indian Ocean that supply Thai Union, the mega-company responsible for producing much of the tinned seafood on supermarket shelves across the globe.

We’ve been collecting these unscrupulous vessels’ fish aggregating devices (FADs), which enable them to scoop up huge volumes of any and all types sea life, pick out the marketable tuna and dump everything else – the ‘bycatch’ – back in the sea, dead.

Greenpeace crew members on the Esperanza pull in a FAD (fish aggregating device) for inspection. 17 April 2016. © Will Rose / GreenpeaceGreenpeace crew members on the Esperanza pull in a FAD (fish aggregating device) for inspection. 17 April 2016. © Will Rose / Greenpeace

Spending a couple of days at port in northern Madagascar, witnessing sustainable local fishers catch fish to feed their families and communities, stiffened the determination of this ship’s crew to go out and stop Thai Union suppliers from pillaging our seas.

Here in the Indian Ocean, fishing using FADs scoops up over four times as much bycatch as free school fishing. That means needlessly killing a lot more species – some of them, like the silky shark, of which between 480,000 and 960,000 are killed by FADs each year in the Indian Ocean alone, are near threatened species.

Silky Sharks near a FAD in the Indian Ocean. 26 April 2016 © Will Rose / GreenpeaceSilky Sharks near a FAD in the Indian Ocean. 26 April 2016 © Will Rose / Greenpeace

If you don’t think that’s acceptable, you’re not alone. Hundreds of thousands of people who passionately feel the same have shown they stand against it – and now it’s time to turn up the heat.

What starts out here in the ocean ends up on our supermarket shelves – from John West in the Netherlands and UK, to Petit Navire in France and Mareblu in Italy – so in the coming days, we’ll be ratcheting up the pressure on Thai Union to clean up their act. For every FAD deployed in their name, we’ll hunt another down; for every needless bycatch, we’ll be standing in the way.

John West tuna cans in FAD net. 27 April 2016 © Will Rose / GreenpeaceJohn West tuna cans in FAD net. 27 April 2016 © Will Rose / Greenpeace

The people on board the Esperanza are people just like you: they’re from the Philippines, from Spain, from Russia and Australia. They’re French, Korean, South African and Chilean. They’re from Italy, Indonesia, Germany and also from close to where this destruction is taking place: Madagascar and Réunion Island. And they’re all out here in the middle of the Indian Ocean to disrupt Thai Union’s destructive supply chain.

But you are the one with the power to turn the tide on Thai Union and make them change. Show them you mean business.

Their reckless fishing is emptying our oceans to fill their tins. And if they think they can get away with it, they’ve got another think coming.

Tom Lowe is a Multimedia Editor at Greenpeace International, on board the Esperanza 

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