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More Than 80 Percent of Canned Tuna is Unsustainable, Greenpeace Claims

More Than 80 Percent of Canned Tuna is Unsustainable, Greenpeace Claims

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It’s nothing special, but a tuna salad sandwich is one of the most common and easiest lunches to prepare. But do you know what you’re actually eating? A new Greenpeace study alleges that 80 percent of canned tuna sold in stores is not made with sustainable, responsibly-caught tuna. Not only that, but three of the biggest brands, StarKist, Bumble Bee, and Chicken of the Sea, all of whom list extensive seafood sustainability practices on their websites, are said to be among the worst offenders. But before you throw out the seafood contents of your pantry, the National Fisheries Institute has called the list “non-scientific, non-transparent and completely subjective.”

Eight of the 14 recognized name brand tunas failed Greenpeace’s sustainability test to identify responsibly raised or caught fish, as well as proper human welfare and labor standards. Criteria included whether the fishing method harmed other wildlife, whether shark fins were avoided, and if the companies can trace their products back to a specific area or fisherman. Wild Planet, American Tuna, and Ocean Naturals, all scored highest in Greenpeace’s study.

It should be noted that StarKist, Bumble Bee, and Chicken of the Sea all have listed extensive seafood sustainability practices on their websites. In fact, Bumble Bee is actually a founder of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation and vows to “support global policies and management initiatives that ensure the long-term sustainability of these resources.” Chicken of the Sea, another member of the International Sustainable Seafood Foundation, releases an annual sustainability report, although the latest report is only from 2013. StarKist is also a partner with ISSF.

Starkist declined to comment on the study, and Chicken of the Sea has not yet responded to The Daily Meal’s inquiries. An outside firm audits and evaluates the performance of ISSF members to ensure compliance and in the last audit, Bumble Bee was deemed compliant in 17 out of 17 areas of performance," a representative from Bumble Bee told The Daily Meal. "We adhere to industry-leading sourcing standards, as well as our own set of elevated standards. This means all our seafood is caught legally and comes from fisheries with healthy and ample stocks or where management actions are in place to return stocks to a sustainable state. All our suppliers comply with global sustainability policies, including the ban on shark finning and fishing methods known to endanger dolphins."

The National Fisheries Institute noted that Greenpeace has refused to join ISSF, and said “The list itself follows the model Greenpeace has used for years: rank companies based on a system for which the scoring methodology is totally arbitrary and hidden, then promote those rankings in the media—rank’n’spank.”

Here’s what Greenpeace had to say about the biggest brands of tuna:

Starkist: Came in last in sustainability ranking, “Starkist product labels provide no information about the tuna inside their cans. They have been found to source from destructive fisheries that kill tons of marine life.”

Bumble Bee: Came in at 12 out of 14 in the sustainability ranking: “Bumble Bee’s website offers a wealth of information about fisheries but lacks a plan to transition to sustainable sources…. Bumble Bee tuna labels currently do not indicate the common name of the species inside the can, or how and where it was caught.”

Chicken of the Sea: Came in at 11 out of 14 in the sustainability ranking: “Chicken of the Sea has a sustainability commitment on its website including an anti-shark finning policy; however, it fails to address how its products will be truly sustainable. Chicken of the Sea sources its tuna from fishing methods that unnecessarily kill vulnerable marine life….This brand lacks important information on product labels about the origin of its tuna.”

“Consumers should know that popular and trusted canned tuna brands are contributing to ocean destruction at an alarming rate,” said Greenpeace Seafood Markets Lead Graham Forbes. “While the biggest brands have thus far refused to offer sustainable tuna, the silver lining here is that other companies are stepping up to provide ocean safe options for their customers.”

Is the Tuna You Buy Contributing to the Destruction of the Ocean?

Canned tuna is one of the most consumed fish in the world, with the U.S. leading the way, despite a dip in consumption in the last 25 years. But the popularity of the fish and its value in the marketplace as its price has increased has led to practices such as illegal fishing, overfishing, and fishing methods that capture and harm other species, called bycatch.

Now for the first time, Greenpeace has scrutinized and rated the practices of companies offering canned tuna—and it found most of them lacking. It found that more than 80 percent of the canned tuna sold in the U.S.comes from sources engaging in unsustainable and destructive fishing practices.

Greenpeace’s 2015 Canned Tuna Shopping Guide, available on their extremely user-friendly website, rates 14 widely available brands and ranked the three biggest—Bumblebee, Chicken of the Sea and StarKist—among the worst performers, talking about sustainability without practicing it or providing little information on their sourcing policies. It gave eight of the 14 a failing score.

“Consumers should know that popular and trusted canned tuna brands are contributing to ocean destruction at an alarming rate,” said Greenpeace seafood markets lead Graham Forbes. “While the biggest brands have thus far refused to offer sustainable tuna, the silver lining here is that other companies are stepping up to provide ocean safe options for their customers.”

The guide looked at whether the common tuna fishing practice of longline fishing, which can capture up to 35 percent bycatch such as sea birds, turtles and sharks, was used or if it involved shark finning, the practice of removing shark fins and tossing the carcass back into the sea. They looked at whether the companies even tracked their product back to the practices used to catch it. They also examined labor and human rights violations in the tuna fishing industry and whether the companies had policies in place to avoid them.

“Unfortunately, dolphin safe does not mean ocean safe,” said Forbes. “Turtles, sharks and other vulnerable ocean life are collateral damage in tuna fisheries that supply the U.S market. The big players have a responsibility to join forward-thinking brands in building a more responsible tuna industry. As the market continues to shift, selling products that are bad for our oceans will be bad for business.”

Among the companies it found were offering products that did not come from destructive sources were Wild Planet, American Tuna and Ocean Naturals.

It ranked Wild Planet at the top saying it’s a “go-to eco-brand, topping the ranks for its dedication to ensuring its tuna products are sustainable and responsible.” It found the company has a fully implemented sourcing policy with information available on its website, as well as on its product labels, and that none of its products are the result of longline fishing but come from fisheries using methods with minimal impact on other marine life.

“While traditionally thought of by many as a specialty product, this better option is now more accessible to consumers,” says Greenpeace’s shopping guide. “The company’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond its products to its advocacy for positive industry change and stronger fishery management.”

Similarly, American Tuna using the pole-and-line method, which avoids harm to turtles, sharks and seabirds. The San Diego-based company is also committed to supporting local and small-scale fisheries.

Ocean Naturals is a newer brand from the Tri Marine Group which started as a WalMart offering and is now expanding. It has expressed a commitment to pole-and-line fished tuna to be locally fished and processed in the coastal fishing communities of American Samoa.

“For a company of this size, Tri Marine is an unparalleled frontrunner,” says the Greenpeace Guide. “The company’s internal sourcing policies are comprehensive and once fully implemented have the potential to be a game changer in the tuna world, provided the Ocean Naturals standards are promoted across all supply relationships.”

Wild Planet was ranked number one by the Greenpeace Tuna Shopping Guide for its outstanding sustainability practices and transparency. Photo credit: Wild Planet

Whole Foods ranked near the top among retailers with its 365 house line offering only sustainably fished products, although the guide recommended that the company provide more information and pay more attention to sourcing. Hy-Vee and Trader Joe’s house brands came in fourth and sixth, with concerns that only some of their products are sustainably sourced and that, while both have been trying to offer more sustainable seafood, they still need to make improvements in their policies and sourcing.

On the other end of the scale, it ranked StarKist, which has the largest share of the U.S. canned tuna market, at the bottom, lambasting it for its lack of transparency.

“This brand has something to hide, and we bet it’s ocean destruction,” says the guide. “StarKist’s failure to take sustainability seriously is trashing our oceans to offer cheap and dirty tuna nationwide.”

Gone fishing

Scientists say there’s one inescapable certainty in any type of commercial fishing: incidental bycatch, the lackluster term for marine life—from whales and dolphins to sharks, seabirds, and endangered sea turtles—unintentionally hooked or ensnared in nets. Fishing methods associated with dolphin bycatch include gillnets, purse seine nets, fish aggregating devices, and longlines.

Each name fittingly describes how the technique works. Gillnets are made of mesh that snags fish by their gills as they swim through it. Purse seine nets encircle schooling fish, which become trapped when the net is cinched, or “pursed,” by a metal cable from the bottom. Often used in combination with purse seines, fish aggregating devices (FADs) are floating rafts attached to a sonar-equipped satellite buoy they take advantage of the natural tendency for fish to congregate beneath such things as logs drifting in the ocean. Longlines trail up to 50 miles of fishing rope baited with thousands of hooks.

The volume of dolphins and other marine life caught as bycatch from these fishing methods is “staggering,” says Zak Smith, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council who contributed to a 2014 report titled Net Loss: The Killing of Marine Mammals in Foreign Fisheries. The report cites data estimating that 650,000 marine mammals including dolphins, whales, and seals are caught or seriously injured in fisheries every year. “Three hundred thousand of those animals are cetaceans [whales, dolphins, and porpoises],” Smith says, “and the vast majority of them are dolphins because there are a lot more dolphins than anything else.”

The Indian Ocean and the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean—770,000 square miles of blue water and archipelagos off the coast of Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, and Columbia— are infamous for dolphin bycatch. In the Indian Ocean, scientists estimate that four million dolphins have died in the region’s poorly regulated gillnet fisheries since the 1950s. The researchers report that roughly 80,000 dolphins are now killed as bycatch annually.

In the tropics of the eastern Pacific Ocean, fishermen have long used dolphin schools as living fish finders, signaling a tuna payload in the deep. This is the only region in the world where a commercial fishery overlaps with the unique, and poorly understood phenomenon of spotted, spinner, and other species of dolphins routinely swimming with schools of yellowfin tuna.

In the old days, seamen chummed the dolphin-rich waters with baitfish, drawing tuna to the surface, where they could hook them with poles. By the late 1950s, however, bait fishermen had widely switched to purse seining, and they commonly targeted and chased the dolphins to corral their tuna catch in the center of nets that could be up to a mile long and 80 feet deep. Scientists estimate that more than six million dolphins were killed by eastern tropical Pacific tuna purse seiners in the three decades before the mid 1990s.

The tipping point came in 1987, when a 31-year-old biologist named Samuel LaBudde (pronounced “LaBuddy”) went undercover as a cook on a Panamanian tuna vessel. On a four-month voyage, he filmed hundreds of dolphins dying as they were hefted from the ocean.

"Drowned or snagged in the net, the dolphins fight a losing battle for life," LaBudde said, narrating the graphic video, broadcast on television and presented before the U.S. Congress. "Some will fall back into the sea as flippers and beaks are broken or ripped out of their bodies, only to become ensnared moments later and be pulled out once again."

Public outrage led to an amendment of the U.S.’s Marine Mammal Protection Act to better protect dolphins and one of the most successful consumer boycotts in national history. “It infected people with a sense of injustice and anger,” LaBudde says. “Thousands of school children refused to eat canned tuna.” In response to the uproar, the big three U.S. tuna companies proclaimed in 1990 that they would not purchase any tuna captured in nets along with dolphins.

Furthermore, the newly signed Dolphin Safe Consumer Information Act of 1990 made it illegal for any tuna product exported from or sold in the U.S. to claim that it’s “dolphin safe” unless it’s in compliance with a bevy of complex U.S. laws and regulations designed to protect dolphins. Demand for dolphin-safe tuna in the U.S. drove many fisheries to adopt the standards, but tuna caught in association with dolphins continues to be sold in Latin America, Asia, and some European countries.

“The U.S. dolphin safe program has been very effective,” says Sara McDonald, a senior fisheries scientist at Monterey Bay Aquarium. “Dolphin mortality in the 1980s was 130,000. In 2018, there were 819 documented deaths. If your product has a dolphin safe label, you are legally obligated not to sell tuna where dolphins were injured, killed, or set upon. It doesn’t mean dolphins aren’t interacting with the tuna fisheries it means that tuna can’t be sold in this country.”

Last updated: 04 February 2016

Canned tuna is not just a tasty, protein-rich snack &ndash it's a massive global industry. How massive? Try around 4 million tonnes caught every year, which has put enormous pressure on stocks.

Sustainability-conscious consumers have to be careful which tuna products they buy, because some species are at risk and others are overfished, explains Dr Quentin Hanich, leader of the Fisheries Governance Research Program at Wollongong University.

"On a global level, there is a failure of cooperation between countries who can't agree on necessary compromises that will protect fisheries," he says. "And in the absence of that consensus, labelling and consumer pressure sends a strong market signal that people want sustainable fishing."

When attempting to choose an eco-friendly tuna, you're bound to be bewildered by opaque packaging claims. But with a little know-how, you'll be able to recognise sustainable tuna on the supermarket shelf.

Boost to sustainably sourced tuna in Australian supermarkets

One recent development looks like good news for the world's tuna stocks. In early February 2016, major canned tuna company John West Australia announced a partnership with the Marine Stewardship Council, WWF and Pacifical (a tuna supplier committed to sustainable methods) to make what it calls "the single biggest brand commitment to help end unsustainable fishing methods within the canned tuna industry in Australia".

It appears to be more than a marketing move. "As a result of a collaborative effort by WWF, Pacifical, MSC and John West, Australians will now see over 100 million cans of clearly labelled Pacifical-MSC-certified sustainably sourced tuna in supermarkets," WWF Australia CEO Dermot O&rsquoGorman says. "The magnitude of this &ndash affecting a huge 43% of Australia's canned tuna &ndash makes this a world first."

Step 1: Look for sustainable species of tuna

The John West collaboration with environmental interests is a big step in the right direction, but there's still plenty of opportunity to be confused by canned tuna labelling. "There are a variety of fish names on packaging," says Nathaniel Pelle from Greenpeace. "If you see 'thunnus' or 'genus thunnus', it simply means tuna. Look for skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis), which is considered the most sustainable tuna."

Skipjack accounted for 68% of the 2.6 million tonnes of Western Pacific tuna caught in 2013, and its fish stocks are considered "healthy" by the Oceanic Fisheries Programme (OFP), an organisation that provides fish stock data to fishers in the Western Pacific Ocean.

You'll also come across yellowfin (Thunnus albacares) tuna, which is controversial because of disagreement about its level of sustainability. The OFP and the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), an industry body comprised of some of the world's biggest commercial fishing companies, says yellowfin stocks are healthy.

However, Greenpeace considers yellowfin stock levels "near threatened" and says that, without renewed and coordinated efforts, yellowfin will soon fall into the threatened category.

"Yellowfin is fished at its limit in certain parts of the Central Pacific and there is probably overfishing in the Western Pacific," says Hanich. "It's not a black-and-white situation and depends on which fisheries the tuna comes from. So skipjack is a safer choice if the label does not mention the catch region."

In August 2015 Coles released a new range of canned yellowfin tuna coming from the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. Find out how the sustainability of fish stocks can change and whether this range is sustainable .

Another species used for canning is longtail tuna (Thunnus tonggol). Pelle says he wouldn't recommend tonggol as a sustainable choice because there are not yet enough complete stock assessments, "so we don't know how healthy the fish stocks are".

Step 2: Look for a sustainable fishing method

Pole-and-line caught tuna

The best approach to sustainability, says Hanich, is the pole-and-line fishing method, in which fish are caught with a single pole, line and hook. Compared to the more prevalent purse seine method (see below), pole-and-line is considered the best way to reduce overfishing and bycatch.

This method also requires more fishermen than the big industrial operations, creating more local jobs in the Western Pacific (where almost all Australian tuna comes from).

FAD-free purse seine tuna

A purse seine is a large floating wall of netting that encircles a school of fish and is 'pursed' on the bottom, preventing fish from escaping by swimming downward. The catch is harvested by hauling the net aboard or bringing it alongside the vessel.

Purse seine fishing vessels are responsible for nearly 62% of the global tuna catch. Greenpeace's position on purse seine is that it's acceptable, as long as it's not combined with fish aggregation devices (FADs).

FADs are floating objects that attract tuna, but can also draw the attention of other marine life. Referred to as 'bycatch', these species are often swept up in the nets along with the 'target' species.

With FADs in use, skipjack tuna often shoal together with young bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus), which is classified as over-fished in the Western Pacific, or yellowfin tuna, as well as sharks, rays and turtles. ISSF statistics show that FADs double the bycatch rate in the Pacific in the Atlantic, FADS increase bycatch rates eight-fold.

Verifying whether a fish catch is FAD-free is tricky. "If a canned tuna label says purse seine but does not say 'FAD-free', a better sustainable choice is pole-and-line caught tuna," says Pelle.

According to Pelle, the massive commercial purse seine operations in the Western Pacific are dominated by Japan, Korea, the United States and Taiwan. He says these huge ships harvest local resources but often exclude local fishers, and they can haul up 3000 tonnes of tuna in a single fishing trip &ndash almost double the annual catch of some Pacific Island countries.

"Only 5 to 10% of value of the whole tuna catch goes back to Pacific countries," Pelle says.

Decoding tuna labels

Dolphin friendly?

"The label 'dolphin friendly' is completely irrelevant in the Western Pacific," says Hanich. "It's the equivalent of saying it's koala friendly, because the chances of catching a dolphin are about the same as catching a koala in the nets."

In the Western Central Pacific, where tuna for the Australian market is predominantly sourced, dolphins tend not to be caught in tuna nets because they don't associate with schooling tuna. But it's a big problem in parts of the Eastern Pacific and Central America, where fishers deliberately follow dolphins, which lead them to tuna stocks.

Pelle agrees, saying the dolphin-safe logo is "part of a self-certifying system that isn't credible."

Drift-net free

The term is misleading, as drift netting was banned by the United Nations in 1991. Although there is illegal drift netting occurring around the world, tuna fisheries supplying Australia are unlikely to be affected.

Who is the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)?

Created in 1997 by WWF and food giant Unilever, the non-profit MSC certifies sustainable fisheries. However, some scientists and environmental groups are critical of MSC, arguing that it certifies unsustainable fisheries or fisheries where there isn't sufficient information to say whether it's sustainable or not, such as in the case of Aker BioMarine's certification for krill fishing.

Despite this criticism, MSC offers the most rigorous brand certification on canned tuna, says Hanich. "It has a certified supply chain from fishing boat to processing plant to wholesalers and retailers."

Greenpeace canned tuna guide

Each year since 2010, Greenpeace has released a list of the most sustainable brands, which takes into account species, fishing methods, labelling, transparency of supply chain auditing, and the level of support for sustainable tuna practice through political, industry and consumer channels.

"Every major brand in Australia has now agreed to phase in FAD-free, responsibly caught tuna by 2016," says Pelle. "Safcol have been the leaders in this change and were the first mainstream company in 2012 to embrace 100% pole-and-line caught tuna, and this helped change the whole industry."

Australian consumers now have the best sustainable tuna in the world, he says.

How do supermarket tuna products stack up?*

Fish4Ever: Described as "the benchmark of sustainable fishing practice", it has 100% pole-and-line-caught tuna.

Safcol: 100% pole-and-line and FAD-free skipjack.

Coles: 100% FAD-free, purse seine-fished skipjack.

Aldi: All new stock on order is FAD-free and pole-and-line, although Aldi is still using yellowfin tuna in its Ocean Rise range. Portview is a better option.

John West: Currently using 100% skipjack tuna, but its FAD-free and pole-and-line stock may not be on the shelves until late 2015.

Sirena: 100% pole-and-line, but uses yellowfin and tonggol tuna, and has poor labelling that doesn't specify the species.

Woolworths: Home Brand is now FAD-free. The Select brand is skipjack and all pole-and-line, but the Woolworths brand continues to use yellowfin and loses marks for poor traceability of its supply chain.

IGA: Has two pole-and-line tuna products in its private label range and is heading towards a FAD-free range during 2015, but their sourcing claims are not backed up by effective third-party audits.

Sole Mare: Its new range is 100% cent pole-and-line, but exclusively uses yellowfin tuna and has not yet obtained audited supply chain guarantees of sustainable sourcing.

Greenseas: 100% skipjack tuna from the Western Central Pacific Ocean, but the company has failed to provide evidence that it's sticking to its commitments to go FAD-free.

Aldi's 'trace your tuna' program

Despite its current use of yellowfin tuna, Aldi has taken a potentially helpful step toward letting you know whether the canned tuna in its stores is sustainably sourced. Through its 'trace your tuna' program, the company says it has "traced our entire canned tuna range from where it was caught, through our supply chain and into our stores".

Aldi's tuna cans have the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) catchment area number printed on the lids, which means you can find out where the tuna was caught using FAO data that matches the number with fisheries around the world. Making a connection between the location of the fishery and whether the tuna was sustainably sourced would be a reach for most consumers, however.

Omega-3 and kilojoules

You'll see omega-3 claims on canned tuna, but products can be labelled "a good source of omega-3" when containing at least 60mg of DHA and EPA per serving. However, this is just a tad over 10% of the Heart Foundation's recommended 500mg of omega-3 daily. Canned tuna is generally not the best source of the essential fatty acid omega-3 compared to other oily fish, such as fresh salmon, mackerel or canned sardines.

The omega-3 content of canned tuna varies widely, so you'll need to carefully check the nutrition panel rather than relying on 'good source' labelling. For example, we found omega-3 content ranging from 80mg per 100g for John West Tuna Tempters Mango Chilli, to 970mg per 100g for the Safcol Tuna Pieces with Lemon and Cracked Pepper. In comparison, canned pink salmon has around 1410mg per 100g.

Buying tuna in oil will add kilojoules. John West Tuna Slices in Springwater has 484kJ per 100g the John West Tuna Slices in Olive Oil Blend has 690kJ. Flavoured packaged tunas marketed as lunch snacks can also have extra sodium and sugar added to bump up taste. The Sirena Bruschetta Tuna Dill & Pickle has 526mg of sodium Sirena Tuna in Springwater & Lemon has 162mg per 100g.

Carting Away the Oceans

In June 2008, Greenpeace published the first edition of Carting Away the Oceans, and evaluated 20 major U.S. grocery retailers on seafood sustainability. By documenting current practices and educating retailers about the impacts of their seafood sales on marine life and our oceans, we sought to raise consumer awareness and collectively encourage retailers to source only sustainable seafood. At that time, the vast majority of retailers were concerned with price and quality, not seafood sustainability. Unsurprisingly, all 20 retailers failed in the first evaluation. Ten years later, in this tenth edition of Carting Away the Oceans, 20 out of 22 retailers have achieved at least passing scores.

We would like to acknowledge the extensive contributions of Greenpeace supporters and volunteers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), scientists, governments, retailers, suppliers, and the press. Through dialogue, collaboration, and a persistent vision for a better future for our oceans, together we have achieved a great deal over the past ten years. Nonetheless, the work over this next decade is critical to ensuring healthy oceans teeming with marine life, where seafood workers are treated fairly, and coastal fishers are able to provide for their families without suffering exploitation from industrial fishing fleets. To achieve this vision for marine life and people, we must stay focused and act with a sense of urgency.

As fish stocks decline from overfishing, industrial fleets expand, and demand increases for cheap seafood, some companies are motivated to employ cheap or forced labor and to fish illegally. [1] Furthermore, a convenience-driven, throwaway culture is exacerbating a global plastic pollution crisis in our oceans. As our planet faces greater environmental threats, more and more people are coming together to demand real social and environmental leadership from corporations, and to create a better future. This moment requires marked action. As we have urged in every Carting Away the Oceans, retailers should use their brand and buying power now to create a different world for our oceans and humanity.

Timeline of Notable Milestones Since June 2008

Greenpeace has evaluated U.S. grocery retailers on sustainable seafood since 2008. This timeline highlights some of the milestones and accomplishments that demonstrate progress in this sector over time. [i]

June 2008: Greenpeace releases its first Carting Away the Oceans report. Not a single retailer received a passing score. Sustainable seafood was not even on the radar of many retailers, and orange roughy and Chilean sea bass commonly appeared in seafood cases across the country.

December 2008: A six-month update of Carting Away the Oceans is released to reflect swift progress by several retailers. Nine retailers drop one or more red list items, including shark, bluefin tuna, orange roughy, and Chilean sea bass. Wegmans and Whole Foods post new sustainable seafood standards online.

June 2009: The third edition of Carting Away the Oceans is released, with Wegmans, Ahold, and Whole Foods in the lead, and H-E-B, Price Chopper, and Meijer in the back of the pack. Target and Walmart have both dropped orange roughy and Wegmans asks the U.S. State Department to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

January–March 2010: Target announces that it will stop selling all farm-raised salmon (which it unfortunately reintroduces in 2017). Following a Greenpeace campaign, Trader Joe’s agrees to implement sustainability measures throughout its seafood operations, and stops selling orange roughy.

April 2010: In the fourth edition of Carting Away the Oceans, half of the 20 retailers evaluated receive passing scores, and more than half have sustainable seafood policies. Target, Wegmans, and Whole Foods lead the pack, while Winn-Dixie, Meijer, and H-E-B are dead last. Greenpeace launches a campaign on Costco to clean up its sourcing.

Early 2011: Costco, Harris Teeter, H-E-B, and Safeway discontinue orange roughy, three more retailers drop Chilean sea bass, and Price Chopper discontinues shark. Following Greenpeace’s campaign, Costco agrees to remove more than half of its red list seafood items, pursue better practices in aquaculture, and assume a leadership role to develop a sustainable global tuna industry. Safeway and Wegmans publicly call for a marine protected area in the Ross Sea. (Today, under an international agreement signed in 2016, this intact ecosystem is now protected from all commercial fishing for 35 years.)

April 2011: Five new retailers receive passing scores, and only five retailers fail in the fifth edition of Carting Away the Oceans. Safeway, Target, and Wegmans lead the pack, while SUPERVALU, Winn-Dixie, and Meijer remain in last place.

April 2012: By the sixth edition of Carting Away the Oceans, Safeway and Whole Foods are the first retailers to earn a green ranking and the only two profiled retailers selling sustainable private label canned tuna. Wegmans ranks third, and the three worst performers are SUPERVALU, Publix, and Bi-Lo/Winn-Dixie. The sale of four top-tier red list species across profiled retailers has dropped precipitously since 2008: shark (down 78%), orange roughy (down 75%), hoki (down 71%), Chilean sea bass (down 50%). A&P, Ahold, ALDI, Costco, Meijer, Target, and Walmart do not sell any of these species.

May 2013: In the seventh edition of Carting Away the Oceans, Whole Foods, Safeway, and Trader Joe’s lead the pack in the green category, while Kroger, Publix, and Bi-Lo continue to scrape the bottom. Walmart has introduced FAD (fish aggregating device)-free skipjack and pole and line albacore tuna in more than 3,000 stores nationwide, and ALDI, H-E-B, Meijer, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods have publicly committed to avoid selling genetically engineered (GE) salmon.

May 2014: In the eighth edition of Carting Away the Oceans, the four green rated companies are Whole Foods, Safeway, Wegmans, and Trader Joe’s and the four failing companies are Publix, Save Mart, Bi-Lo, and Roundy’s. Every other retailer achieves a passing score. Safeway and Kroger join more than 60 other retailers pledging not to sell GE salmon. Hy-Vee debuts in fifth place, selling sustainable private label canned tuna along with Whole Foods, Safeway, and Trader Joe’s. Greenpeace demands action from retailers on labor and human rights abuses and IUU fishing.

June 2014: A UK Guardian investigation reveals forced labor in the supply chain of the Thai shrimp industry’s biggest supplier, CP Foods, naming Walmart, Costco, and ALDI as customers of shrimp supplied by CP Foods. [2]

June 2015: In the ninth edition of Carting Away the Oceans, Whole Foods, Wegmans, Hy-Vee, and Safeway earn a green rating, while Southeastern Grocers, Roundy’s, Publix, A&P, and Save Mart fail. Costco and Target begin selling private label sustainable canned tuna. Whole Foods, Wegmans, Hy-Vee, Safeway, Ahold, and Giant Eagle call on Congress to pass tougher legislation to stop IUU fishing.

December 2015: An Associated Press investigation reveals child and forced labor was used in Thai Union’s shrimp supply chains. [3] Kroger, Albertsons, Whole Foods, and Walmart are mentioned as examples of where tainted seafood might have ended up (in either shrimp or pet food products), to demonstrate the significant risks for all retailers regarding poor traceability.

2016: Greenpeace’s global campaign on tuna giant Thai Union is underway. In April, Greenpeace launches a campaign on Walmart to improve its canned tuna. Several U.S. retailers continue focusing, or begin to focus, on canned tuna. In December, Greenpeace’s Turn the Tide report [4] documents the risks associated with transshipment at sea, including a significant risk of products sold by major U.S. retailers being linked to IUU fishing and human rights abuses.

2017: In March, Mars and Nestlé announce strong measures to address transshipment at sea. Several retailers have released public shelf-stable tuna policies, including, Whole Foods, Hy- Vee, ALDI, Giant Eagle, Wegmans, and Albertsons. Whole Foods becomes the first U.S. retailer to commit to sell only sustainable canned tuna (private label and national brands). By the release of Greenpeace’s second U.S. Tuna Shopping Guide [5] in April, ALDI, Giant Eagle, Ahold Delhaize, Kroger, SUPERVALU, and Southeastern Grocers are developing or selling sustainable private label canned tuna products. In July, Thai Union commits to a series of environmental and social reforms, that will transform its U.S. and global tuna supply chains.

August 2018: Greenpeace releases its tenth edition of Carting Away the Oceans, where 90% of profiled companies receive passing scores, versus all failing in 2008. Whole Foods, Hy-Vee, and ALDI hold the top three ranks as Price Chopper, Save Mart, and Wakefern score the lowest. Amid major improvements over the last decade, new threats persist from labor and human rights abuses, climate change, and plastic pollution. The next decade is critical for ocean health and humanity.

Carting Away the Oceans 10: Significant Findings

Following mergers, acquisitions, and bankruptcies, this year’s edition assesses 22 U.S. retailers with a significant nationwide or regional presence, including one newly profiled retailer (Sprouts Farmers Market, or “Sprouts”). Ninety percent of the retailers achieved at least a passing score.

  • Whole Foods remains the top-ranked retailer following the release of its shelf-stable tuna policy last year. After Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, questions remain as to whether Amazon will follow the grocer’s lead on sustainable seafood.
  • Hy-Vee (ranked 2nd), improving on shelf-stable tuna and with several advocacy initiatives, takes Wegmans’ place near the top. Wegmans dropped four spots to 6th, in part because of its unfortunate reintroduction of orange roughy and its troubling decision to source farmed Pacific bluefin tuna for special events.
  • By continuing to implement their policies and seize advocacy opportunities, ALDI (ranked 3rd) and Target (4th) moved into the green category. Giant Eagle’s (5th) years-long focus on sustainable seafood is bearing fruit: the retailer leapt six spots to round out the top five.
  • ALDI (ranked 3rd), Giant Eagle (5th), Wegmans (6th), and Sprouts (8th) have public policies with requirements regarding transshipment at sea for tuna. Whole Foods (1st), Hy-Vee (2nd), and Meijer (10th) are the only profiled retailers that fully source pole and line and/or FAD-free tuna for their own brand shelf-stable products.
  • None of the profiled retailers have major, comprehensive commitments to reduce and ultimately phase out their reliance on single-use plastics. Among the largest U.S. retailers by revenue, Walmart, Kroger, Costco, Ahold Delhaize, Albertsons, and Amazon must urgently address their contribution to the plastic pollution crisis.
  • Following its acquisition of Safeway, Albertsons Companies’ (“Albertsons,” ranked 7th) public commitments and advocacy initiatives landed it as the highest ranked among the nation’s five largest (by revenue) retailers, and the company is building upon Safeway’s legacy of sustainable seafood initiatives. Ahold Delhaize (9th) and Kroger (gained seven spots to 11th) are close behind, while Walmart (13th) dropped one spot and Costco’s (15th) rank remains unchanged.
  • Newly profiled Sprouts (ranked 8th) has a new sustainable seafood policy, with plans to source 100% pole and line shelf-stable tuna and to phase out red list species.
  • Save Mart (ranked 21st), Publix (17th), Southeastern Grocers (16th), Kroger (11th), and Giant Eagle (5th) are the most improved retailers, respectively. Southeastern Grocers and Publix both received passing scores for the first time ever. Although Save Mart failed in this report, as it implements its new seafood policy, it should continue to improve.
  • While other retailers made strong gains, Trader Joe’s (ranked 14th) dropped seven spots following a lack of initiatives and customer engagement on sustainable seafood. Price Chopper (20th) dropped six spots, underperforming on initiatives and transparency, while Wakefern (22nd) dropped five spots to scrape the bottom of the rankings.

The Modernization of Grocery Retail

There has been a dramatic change in grocery retail since the last edition of Carting Away the Oceans in 2015. Consolidations continue and formerly profiled companies have either merged or gone out of business.

Several trends are emerging in the wake of Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, as competitors seek to remain relevant in this new era of grocery retail. [6] Retailers are partnering with delivery services to offer faster, even two-hour, delivery. Walmart acquired, Target acquired Shipt, retailers from Costco to Albertsons offer delivery through Instacart, and Ahold Delhaize’s Peapod, which launched decades ago, is offering price cuts and promotions to remain competitive. At the store level, retailers are investing in modernized layouts, signage, and product packaging, as many open smaller-format stores for urban millennials. Some are also integrating tech solutions that offer convenient ways to shop and pay for groceries (e.g., pick up pre-bagged groceries, Apple Pay). A key strategy in staying competitive, employed by the likes of Trader Joe’s, ALDI, and Costco, involves a focus on private label products, especially as millennials and urban shoppers increasingly trust these over national brands. [7], [8], [9]

As part of this technological modernization effort, some retailers are working with organizations or companies that can bolster a retailer’s seafood traceability, to avoid unsustainable or unethically sourced seafood (e.g., Whole Foods, Ahold Delhaize, and Albertsons with Trace Register Publix, Walmart, and Giant Eagle with Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) for its Ocean Disclosure Project (ODP)). While this is a welcome trend, Greenpeace cautions against the public relying too heavily on such resources for information. In the case of ODP, the data are all self-reported, focus only on wild-caught seafood, and even then, do not encompass the entire inventory. [10] Nonetheless, Greenpeace acknowledges such efforts as a great first step toward greater seafood traceability and transparency.

Drowning in Plastic

Across the board, retailers are severely lagging in their efforts to tackle single-use plastic packaging. The equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic enters our oceans every minute, [11] and with plastic production set to double in the next 20 years—largely for packaging—the threats to ocean biodiversity and seafood supply chains are increasing. The United Nations (UN) describes it as a potential “toxic time-bomb.” [12] Single-use plastics are devastating our oceans, and retailers must take responsibility for their contribution to this global crisis (see Plastics Are Devastating Our Oceans). Retailers in the United Kingdom [13] and the Netherlands [14] are making significant changes and commitments toward reducing or eliminating the use of plastics in their operations. It is time for U.S. retailers to swiftly and comprehensively reduce and eventually phase out single-use plastics.

Struggling to Uphold Labor and Human Rights Standards

The year 2018 has seen a continued focus on labor and human rights in the seafood industry, including several reports from organizations like Human Rights Watch, [15] International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), [16] Greenpeace, [17] and Oxfam. [18] Behind the Barcodes, a recent Oxfam report, even profiled some of the same supermarkets in this report across four categories: transparency, workers, farmers, and women. It found that all six U.S. retailers [ii] profiled outright failed, and had “barely shown any awareness,” in particular regarding transparency in their supply chains and gender inequality issues. [19]

Many in the industry are part of initiatives, such as the Seafood Task Force. While such fora can facilitate improvements, this initiative seems to have stalled out. [iii], [20] For meaningful changes to occur in Thailand, Taiwan, and other key regions, the Task Force and its member companies must step up their commitment by encouraging the Thai and Taiwanese governments to make it legal for migrant workers to organize and lead trade unions, and to ensure that International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions 87, 98, 108, and 188 are ratified and fully implemented. [21] Fortunately, other initiatives like the newly formed Fishers’ Rights Network (FRN) [22] are working to stop exploitation and abuse in the Thai fishing industry, and calling for bold action from the Thai government. Supported by the International Transport Workers’ Federation, the FRN is helping workers to organize and campaign to improve the wages, working conditions, and labor rights of all fishers in the Thai fishing industry.

In May, Greenpeace East Asia reported on systemic problems in Taiwan’s distant water fishing fleets, including labor and human rights abuses linked to one of the world’s largest seafood traders, Fong Chun Formosa Fishery Company (FCF). [23] Many large U.S. retailers do business with FCF and should act quickly to evaluate the social responsibility and sustainability of any seafood supplied by FCF, including calling on FCF to make far-reaching reforms. [iv] Retailers must leverage their long-term supplier relationships—whether with FCF or another supplier—to improve problematic operations wherever possible. However, if a supplier cannot demonstrate swift and effective action to eliminate problems once they have been identified, then retailers or other customers should terminate their relationship with that supplier.

Most eco-certification schemes either insufficiently address or outright ignore labor abuses and seafood worker treatment in the supply chain, [24], [25], [26] and even social certifications have failed to create the systemic changes needed. [27] Rather than doubling down on inherently flawed certification schemes or relying only on corporate codes of conduct and internal or external audits, industry and NGOs must reconsider whether this approach is indeed working. Greenpeace encourages all profiled retailers and their suppliers to aim higher and instead support ILRF’s call to action [28] to hold companies and retailers accountable through legally binding commitments and enforceable agreements with trade unions and workers’ organizations that put workers’ rights, legal fishing, and environmental sustainability front and center.

More Than 80 Percent of Canned Tuna is Unsustainable, Greenpeace Claims - Recipes

There are many complex, nuanced issues in today’s world – banning single-use plastic products isn’t one of them.

In order to curb the exorbitant amount of plastic pollution in Australia, we need to stop relying on plastic products with such a short life-span. Consider this: Recent Greenpeace analysis found that Australians alone use over 9.7 billion single-use plastic bags annually.

If we continue on this path, the amount of plastic waste littering our earth will almost be unimaginable. Research published in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances calculated that if our plastic production continues on this level, there will be 12 million kilograms, of waste in landfills or in the natural environment by 2050. That’s equivalent to 1.8 billion African elephants!

Why is there so much? Examining plastic use in Australia

An alarming amount of lightweight plastic comes from supermarkets across Australia a 2016 report from NSW EPA estimates the figure stands at around 75 percent.

But they aren’t the only culprit contributing to plastic waste. The remaining 25 percent of lightweight plastic comes from fast food restaurants, liquor outlets, convenience stores and other retailers. These figures don’t even include the heavier plastic waste from things like water bottles, takeout containers and plastic cutlery.

While bans on plastic bags across Australia are currently gaining traction, we are yet to see any real commitment from government leaders. For example, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian claims she is taking no action on plastic bag use because the supermarket ban will eliminate 80 percent of the problem. Yet, we know that supermarkets aren’t the only offenders.

In order to truly make a dent in our plastic waste issue on a national scale, we need 100 percent commitment from our government – as well as our businesses.

How? Living by the three Rs: Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

We need to make a conscious effort to work on our plastic use if we want to keep our lands, our oceans and our communities healthy. Making this kind of positive contribution to our world is more accessible than you might think. In fact, we are strong advocates of calling upon the old schoolyard mantra of: Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Reduce: We can cut down on the amount of plastic waste in the world by simply reducing the amount of single-use plastic we use in our everyday lives. Opt for a reusable water bottle over a 24-pack of plastic bottles from your local grocery store. Bring canvas bags to the supermarket instead of using the cashier-provided plastic. These little actions can have a big effect.

Reuse: Single-use plastic items can be repurposed with a little creativity. If you do purchase these plastic products try and extend their lifespan by reusing them for DIY projects. Craft sites are full of ideas, like building a bird feeder out of an old ketchup bottle!

Recycle: Can you believe that only 9 percent of all plastic is recycled? Such a small percentage for an activity that can have an important impact on the pollution of our planet. Whether it’s investing in a household recycling bin or research local recycling facilities – doing our part to dispose of our plastic properly can cut down on the current plastic problem across Australia.

Together, Australians can take a stand against the outrageous amount of plastic use, and resulting waste, across our country. To learn more about Greenpeace campaigns that target this i


Increasing quantities of high-grade tuna are reared in net pens and fed bait fish. In Australia, former fishermen raise southern bluefin tuna, Thunnus maccoyii, and another bluefin species. [ 9 ] Farming its close relative, the northern bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus, is beginning in the Mediterranean, North America and Japan. Hawai ʻ i just approved permits for the first U.S. offshore farming of bigeye tuna in water 1,300 feet (400 m) deep. [ 23 ]

Japan is the biggest tuna consuming nation and is also the leader in tuna farming research. [ 24 ] Japan first successfully farm-hatched and raised bluefin tuna in 1979. In 2002, it succeeded in completing the reproduction cycle and in 2007, completed a third generation. [ 25 ] [ 26 ] [ 27 ] The farm breed is known as Kindai tuna. Kindai is the contraction of Kinki University in Japanese (Kinki daigaku). [ 28 ] In 2009, Clean Seas, an Australian company which has been receiving assistance from Kinki University [ 29 ] [ 30 ] [ 31 ] managed to breed Southern Bluefin Tuna in captivity and was awarded the second place in World's Best Invention of 2009 by Time magazine. [ 32 ]

The healthiest canned tuna you can buy

1. Wild Planet Albacore Wild Tuna

Get what you see - and more! Wild Planet is rated as the best sustainable option by Greenpeace and has a strong sustainability policy. Each product catches on poles, lines, or trolls, which means it has less unintended negative effects on other marine life. Wild Planet also offers its products for third party mercury testing. The brand offers a variety of ready-made tuna (both Albacore and Skipjack) and is packaged in olive oil without any salt and standard varieties. There are no bad choices in this brand, but if you are looking for low sodium, don’t buy salt. Be fat conscious? Choose the standard for olive oil packs.

2. American Tuna

The brand was highly valued by Greenpeace for its pole and line capture products and for supporting the marine defense. Affordable with the sea, the brand was founded by 6 Anglers and supports local, small-scale fishing and processing in the United States. With flavors like a brick drunk, jalapeno and more, there is a large selection that meets your culinary needs. In terms of nutrition, this brand claims "higher omega 3" than other brands.

3. Safe Catch Elite Pure Wild Tuna

The product is the official tuna of the American Pregnancy Association and focuses on the production of canned tuna with low mercury content. Because they test every fish for mercury, their mercury limit is ten times that of the FDA action limit. Safe tuna fishing is consistently caught without destructive fishing methods and follows the recommendations of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood and Watch Ch program. Just stuff? Skipagek tuna and salt.

4. Ocean Naturals Skipjack Chunk Light Tuna in Water

Awarded the 'Green' Label by Greenpeace, this global tuna company focuses on responsible fishing and transparency and is a proud supporter of the Earth Island organization. Ocean Natural clearly lists the specific types of fish used in each product and uses only four ingredients in its line: fish, salt, water, or olive oil. Your skipjack tuna contains 230 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per serving. All of their light tuna is 100 percent skipjack and not a combination of many species (as some are more at risk than others).

5. 365 Everyday Value Albacore Wild Tuna In Water

Whole Foods brands have strong traceability to ensure responsible sourcing. It is worth noting that Whole Foods was the first American retailer to commit to selling 100 percent ready-made unripe tuna. Your tuna with albacore in water is a great pimple with low sodium content.

6. Tonnino Tuna Fillets in Spring Water

A higher-end gourmet is a Costa Rican brand high-end brewery product and certainly has experience compared to standard tuna. It comes in a variety of flavors, including glasses filled with water or olive oil and garlic, capers and jalapenos. The brand is the only source of ships registered with the CIATT, a group that guarantees resource conservation, and observers onboard guaranteeing no species other than tuna are stuck in the mix. They use the methods responsible for fishing and give something back to their local community. While this brand has a slightly higher sodium content than others, it should not be a deal-breaker.

More Than 80 Percent of Canned Tuna is Unsustainable, Greenpeace Claims - Recipes

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Greenpeace Australia Pacific is an independent environmental campaigning organisation that uses non-violent direct action to work for solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

More than 95% of our funding comes from generous individual donors, which allows us to make independent decisions and take action on campaigns that matter the most to our supporters.

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Primarily, our funds are used to pay for all the campaigns that we run, from protecting the Great Barrier Reef and the Arctic, to dealing with climate change and promoting environmentally sustainable solutions. A portion of any funds we raise is also re-invested to ensure long-term stability and steady growth of our organisation. And finally, we spend a portion of money raised on governance and administration to help ensure our organisation is run efficiently and effectively, with optimum oversight.

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Keeping in touch with our supporters ensures that we hear your views and you are kept up to date with the impact you are having with your donations. But we know that our supporters are busy, so we promise that:

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Nuclear power creates poisonous waste, fuels the nuclear arms race, and threatens the health and well being of communities thousands of miles away. It’s also not a solution to climate change. Creating nuclear fuel is a hugely energy-intensive task.

When you sum up the CO2 emitted by the mining, milling, processing and transport of nuclear fuels, there’s no significant savings on carbon output. This is why the framers of the Kyoto protocol rejected efforts by the nuclear power industry to allow carbon credits for nuclear power. You’ll see this fallacy trumpeted in advertising by the nuclear industry, but you won’t find a reputable climate scientist who is convinced by the ads.

And even IF it was safe, we don’t have enough time to commission enough new nuclear power plants to significantly halt the speed at which the climate is changing because the approval and build time is so long. Renewable energy is the only option for humanity to tackle runaway climate change.

Greenpeace is concerned about protecting the greatest reservoirs of terrestrial biodiversity — the last remaining ancient forests. We don’t have any opposition to responsible, sustainable forestry practices outside those areas. Read more about our policies on forest protection in our forests section.

We’ve been documenting the recent impact of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef corals – and it’s devastating. We just released new footage showing the extent and severity of the ongoing bleaching event. With this, we want to raise awareness of what is happening to this vital and fragile living organism. It should be a wake up call for everyone and especially our governments to finally put the brakes on fossil fuel industry development.

In Australia we are campaigning for a ban on new coal projects as a first step towards a fossil fuel phase out. The science is clear: we cannot limit global warming below 1.5°c if we continue to open new fossil fuel projects. Globally, Greenpeace is campaigning to stop all new fossil fuel projects and phase out the existing projects while transitioning to a renewable energy future. This is the only option to save coral reefs globally, like the Great Barrier Reef.

The coal mining industry regularly exaggerates its contribution to the Australian economy. Here are the facts:

  • Coal mining employs only around 0.5% of the Australian workforce.
  • Its contribution in the form of royalties is similarly modest. For example, coal mining royalties in NSW made up just 2% of government revenue. The NSW government earns around the same from coal royalties as it does from fines and licenses.
  • The coal industry pays a low rate of tax: around 12% compared to the average rate of 17% for other Australian industry.

The coal industry claims that it creates many more ‘indirect jobs’. But the ‘jobs multipliers’ used to justify this claim have been recognised as misleading by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which no longer uses them for precisely this reason. The coal industry also benefits from a range of direct and indirect subsidies and creates hidden costs through coal pollution’s impact on health and the environment.

The world is already moving away from coal and towards sustainable jobs in renewable energy. If we want a prosperous future, we need to move away from the polluting coal technology of the 19th century and make sure that we secure a just transition so that the workers in the coal industry are not left behind, and indigenous rights are protected.

At least two things make the Carmichael mine a red line for the climate:

  • The mine is to be the largest black coal mine in Australia, and burning its coal would result in annual greenhouse emissions of 120Mtpa CO2-e equivalent of almost 1/3 of Australia’s total annual CO2 emissions (28%).
  • The Galilee Basin is the largest untapped coal deposit on earth currently being proposed for development. It has remained untapped due to its isolation and lack of enabling infrastructure. If a first mine is built – bringing rail, power, water and other infrastructure – it potentially unlocks numerous other mines across the basin. There remain proposals for several mega mines in the Galilee Basin with a potential total annual production capacity of over 300Mtpa.

Around 85% of wildlife in the Great Australian Bight [off the southern coast of Australia] exists nowhere else in the world. You could say it’s one of Australia’s best kept secrets – it’s like our own version of the Galapagos islands. The Bight is one of the world’s most important whale nurseries, especially for the Southern Right whale – the same whales seen from the cliffs around the Australian coast. And it’s home to Australia’s very own unique species of sea lion.

The local indigenous people, the Mirning, know this better than anyone. They’ve lived alongside the diverse life of the Bight for tens of thousands of years. There are many other people in the Bight who rely on the sea too, for example thousands of people who work in the fishing, oyster and tourism industries. That’s all under threat from the Oil industry – the threat of an oil spill, and the impact of Climate Change. If we are to meet the internationally accepted targets set by the Paris Agreement, we cannot even afford to burn all of the fossil fuel deposits – oil, gas and coal – that we’ve already discovered. We have to keep it in the ground and move on to renewable energy as soon as possible.

Corporations have been extracting and burning easy-to-find oil for decades. But now their greed is taking them to previously unexplored areas, from the Arctic to the Southern Ocean. And even as companies like Shell pull back from the Arctic, others like BP, Statoil, Chevron, Karoon Gas and more, are trying to open new oilfields elsewhere – such as off the Australian coast. Though opposition to oil exploration is strengthening, it just goes to show that big business is as greedy as ever.

Scientists estimate that around 8 million tonnes of plastic is ending up in the ocean each year. 30% of the world’s turtles and 90% of seabirds have ingested plastic debris. By 2050, 99% of the world’s seabird species will be accidentally eating plastic (CSIRO). Australians use around 4 billion plastic bags every year – that’s a whopping 10 million or so each day. Clean Up Australia estimate that around 50 million of these end up as litter and make their way into our waterways and ocean.

The plastic bag bans on other states and territories did not ban bin liners. The main cause of the plastic bag problem is the supermarkets showering us with free single use plastic bags and together we can end this destructive practice. We would absolutely suggest that people use compostable alternatives to plastic bin liners, like potato or corn starch bags, or more creative alternatives like old newspapers to line their bins – or just don’t use liners and take your bin out more frequently! Or, even better still, reduce your landfill waste by composting foodscraps and recycle recyclables.

Research has consistently shown that on almost every measure, green bags have a much lower environmental impact than single-use plastic bags. This is because the increase in green bags is far outweighed by the reduction in plastic bag use. Green bags can also be recycled after two years.

Greenpeace has been campaigning for years to highlight the role that cattle farming and soy production (used mainly for animal feed) plays in the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. This has often been at great personal risk to our activists. Animal agriculture has an enormous ecological footprint. The greenhouse gas emissions of the meat industry are greater than every plane, train, car, lorry and boat – put together.

Overall, livestock agriculture (including all cows, pigs, sheep etc.) is responsible for about 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions – well below the burning of fossil fuels at 65%, but still of vital importance. Cattle ranching has been the biggest cause of deforestation in the Amazon, such that a few years ago nearly 80% of deforested areas in Brazil was used for pasture – although action by groups like Greenpeace has been bringing it down. But given that the burning of fossil fuels is the single largest contributor to run away climate change, the majority of our resources and our focus needs be on campaigning to bring about the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

The short answer is that we do promote veganism and vegetarianism as a way to help. But we’ve never solely advocated boycotts or veganism. Voting with your money (not buying meat/fish) is great, but it gives the most power to those with the most money. The ability to create change needs to be accessible to all, and work in a global context that incorporates cultural, class and accessibility issues. Advocating a one-size-fits-all solution of ‘go vegan to save the planet’ simply isn’t an appropriate, meaningful or impactful solution to someone who relies on subsistence farming or fishing for survival. The world needs to make big changes across a variety of sectors to solve climate change.

Becoming vegan is a wonderful thing you can do to reduce your impact – but it isn’t the only thing. That list could include not driving a car, never taking airplanes, eating only locally grown organic food, avoiding palm oil and plastic, living off-grid, avoiding ‘fast fashion’ – a pretty significant challenge for the average person. But we encourage people to take the biggest steps they can, while taking on the corporations and governments that drive the biggest causes of climate change.

For 2 years we campaigned to have Australia’s biggest tuna supplier, John West, commit to 100% FAD-free and pole and line tuna. Since then, every other brand and retailer in our ranking made a similar commitment. Now there is more tuna caught using responsible, lower impact fishing methods on our supermarket shelves than tuna caught using destructive FAD’s. Check out the Canned Tuna Guide here as there are still some brands that are a better choice than others.

Our Green Electricity guide has been specially developed to help you work out which electricity companies are the most planet friendly. The electricity sector is the largest source of domestic greenhouse emissions in Australia. 85% of our power still comes from coal and gas. The rest comes from renewables, mostly hydro and wind but also from an increasing amount of rooftop solar.

By choosing a retailer that invests its money in renewables rather than fossil fuels, you can help clean up our energy sector by reducing your carbon pollution. You’ll find the guide online here.


We are all part of the environment and what we do to the environment, we do to ourselves. Take a look at some of the blog posts we’ve written in the past.

We get many requests at Greenpeace for help with general school reports about pollution and other environmental issues. We wish we could help each of you individually, but we try to keep focused on the tasks that people donate to Greenpeace for: to win campaigns for the environment. Don’t forget that you can search through all the information at the Greenpeace site.

In all but a few exceptional cases, Greenpeace works on a global scale and does not address individual pollution sites one by one. Greenpeace has limited resources and so chooses to focus on major threats to ecosystems and species — we simply don’t have the ability to address destruction at all levels. For local issues, we have to count on people like you who care and are willing to fight for what you believe.

If you want some specific advice or from us in relation to the campaign you want to run, please complete this form with more details and we’ll get back in touch with you to discuss further.

Good luck: there’s no time to waste.

Whale strandings often end sadly because of well-intentioned but uninformed help. A whale on dry land’s biggest danger is overheating: keep them cool and wet but don’t obstruct the breathing through their blow hole. The Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA) is a volunteer run organisation that is the most experienced and successful whale rescue organisation in Australia, and is also involved with the protection and welfare of seals, sea lions, dolphins and dugongs. ORRCA is the only wildlife carers group in NSW licensed to be involved with marine mammal rescue, rehabilitation and release. Please get in touch with ORRCA to find out more. Greenpeace does not run a stranded whale rescue program – we apply our limited resources to stopping the greatest threats to all whales: Climate Change.

Greenpeace doesn’t address animal rights issues at a local level. We campaign for habitat protection and to stop the greatest threats to the natural world. You can contact one of the largest animal rights organisations in the world, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or Animals Australia.

The Great Barrier Reef is in a state of emergency. In 2017 it went through a second mass bleaching event in just two years and its corals are threatened by climate change. Warmer ocean temperatures can result in coral bleaching. When the water is too warm, corals will expel the algae (zooxanthellae) living in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white. This is called coral bleaching. Corals can survive a bleaching event, but they are under more stress and are subject to mortality. In 2016, it was reported that 93% of the corals of the Great Barrier Reef bleached and 22% of the entire Great Barrier Reef died. These new figures indicate that the extent of coral mortality in 2016 is worse than first thought, and in 2017 further bleaching has occurred..

Coral bleaching occurs when the microscopic algae (zooxanthellae) which give coral much of their colour, breakdown and leave the coral. Without the zooxanthellae, the tissue of the coral animal appears transparent and the coral’s bright white Skelton is revealed. If conditions return to normal, corals can heal, return to their normal colour and survive. However, this stress is likely to cause decreased coral growth and reproduction, and increased susceptibility to disease. Coral reefs can take decades to recover from a bleaching event.

Basic physics and sophisticated modelling predict that a warmer atmosphere and importantly a warmer ocean are likely to create more extreme events such as cyclones, hurricanes, drought, heatwaves and cold. As the planet heats, weather patterns are destabilised. Warm air sucks more water from the ground and holds more water contributing to droughts in some areas and torrential rain in others. Climate change has shifted the odds and changed the natural limits, making certain types of extreme weather more frequent and more intense.

Consider this: research has concluded that Australia alone contributes 13,888 tones of litter into the oceans annually. When plastic makes its way into our oceans, it can cause injuries and even fatalities to fish, marine mammals and seabirds. The good news is, there are actions you can take to put an end to ocean pollution – simple lifestyle changes that will not only improve the health of our oceans today, but for generations to come.

(1) make single-use plastic items a no-go. A huge source of waste comes from single-use plastic items. This includes straws, water bottles, grocery bags and take-out containers. Anything that is used once and then thrown away can always be replaced by a reusable equivalent.

(2) Ditch the microbeads. You know those cute little beads in your exfoliating face wash? Cute may not be your word of choice when you hear about their environmental impact. Microbeads are non-biodegradable plastic particles, so when they travel through our sewer systems into our oceans, they are consumed by marine life, harming the entire ecosystem. Because microbeads don’t degrade, they can also end up in the food sitting on our dinner plates.

(3) Join (or create) community cleanups. Whether it’s a full-blown neighbourhood effort or just you and your friends heading over to the beach on a sunny day, taking the time to pick up plastic and other waste left by the oceanfront has a direct effect on clearing our oceans!

The Paris Agreement is the first truly global attempt to fight climate change. With it, the world has come together to say: climate change must be urgently tackled, its victims must be protected and we are going to do it together. The Agreement aims to prevent giant ice sheets from melting, islands from drowning and forests and oceans from dying by cutting and eventually eliminating those man made emissions that are causing our climate to warm. It puts in place a new temperature limit of well below 2 degrees Celsius, pursuing 1.5. Furthermore, it aims to provide protection and resilience for those who are already threatened by climate change or will be in the future.

Most of the pollution that’s causing our atmosphere to warm is resulting from the burning of oil, coal and gas. The Agreement’s collective goals effectively mean we need to start freeing ourselves from fossil fuels right here, right now. Burning all existing fossil fuel operations would take us beyond 2C of warming if it were allowed to continue, so there is definitely no room for any new mining for new fossil fuel deposits .

This is a revolutionary message to the global economy which today is largely powered by fossil fuels. As The Economist rightly put it:
“Perhaps the most significant effect of the Paris agreement in the next few years will be the signal it sends to investors: the united governments of the world say that the age of fossil fuels has started drawing to a close.”

Or another key business magazine Forbes:
“Paris Climate Change Deal Could Spell The Beginning Of The End Of The Fossil Fuel Age”

No, not yet. But we can be, if we now take the agreement’s goals seriously and speed up the clean energy transition big time. The problem is that what countries have so far announced they’ll do individually, as their national contributions to the agreement, does not yet add up to what’s needed – not even close. So now countries must urgently consider ways to increase and speed up their emission cuts and set them on a clear path to 100% renewable energy.

What’s also still missing is funding – from those who’ve polluted the most to those who will be and are suffering from it the most. So-called developed countries have promised to mobilise at least 100 BLN USD annually for developing countries’ climate action by 2020, and to continue that funding from thereon at least until 2025, before setting a new goal. Now they must make sure the money really flows, in a reliable and predictable way, so that the vulnerable can build true and lasting climate resilience.

1.5 degrees Celsius maximum warming (for global surface temperatures compared to pre-industrial levels) is now the ambition level that every climate action will be judged by. It is a very ambitious goal that practically tells us to quit fossil fuels as soon as humanly possible, and to protect and improve our natural carbon sinks like forests and peatlands. Previously, in Cancun in 2010, countries had agreed on a less ambitious warming limit of 2°C.

This new, stronger temperature goal was forced on the table by the Climate Vulnerable Forum and many other least developed countries who fear that 2°C warming would already threaten their survival. Their concerns were confirmed by an expert review that compared the differences between a 1.5°C and 2°C goal. Eventually, to the surprise of many if not most, the goal was endorsed by so many developed countries in Paris that the goal made it into the Agreement.

However, supporting the goal is one thing, delivering it is another. Currently there’s a great mismatch between the two. The European Commission, for one, has had trouble admitting that the new global goal requires the EU to reassess its own policies and plans accordingly, for faster emission cuts and a substantial acceleration of the transition to 100% renewable energy.

Not at all. We have the technology and money to get there in time . We just need to have the courage to change. That is the hardest part, as those who have their money and power invested in the continued burning of oil, coal and gas will not let go easily. But they will have to, much sooner than they’ve anticipated.

The global coal industry – the biggest single source of emissions – is already facing the cold truth. Their prospects have changed dramatically in just a few years – thanks to an incredible turnaround in China’s coal consumption boom, coupled with a rapid coal consumption decline in the US, and a global boom of clean, renewable energy. With the Paris Agreement, it will only get worse for coal. As the head of Europe’s coal lobby put it, his industry will be “hated and vilified in the same way that slave-traders were once hated and vilified” as a result of the Paris climate deal.

The future is renewable. As the Bloomberg New Energy Finance concluded in its annual Future of Energy summit: “The best minds in energy keep underestimating what solar and wind can do.” Since 2000, the International Energy Agency has raised its long-term solar forecast 14 times and its wind forecast five times. Every time global wind power doubles, there’s a 19 percent drop in cost, and every time solar power doubles, costs fall 24 percent. After Paris, it is high time to stop undermining these sources, as they are our future.


There’s an old joke around the organisation that in any bar in Vancouver, Canada, you can find at least one person who claims to have founded Greenpeace.

In truth, many talented folks contributed to the creation of Greenpeace. Bill Darnell coined the name when someone flashed him a peace sign and he said “let’s make that a green peace!” Bob Hunter created the concept of the “Media Mind Bomb” -reaching the public consciousness through dramatic, camera-ready opposition to environmental crimes. Jim Bohlen, Paul Cote, and Irving Stowe were the founders of the “Don’t Make a Wave Committee,” which organised the first Greenpeace action: a voyage to Amchitka Island in the Aleutians to try to stop a nuclear weapons test. David Mc. Taggart convinced a half dozen loosely connected early groups to put aside their differences and join in a single worldwide organisation, creating Greenpeace International in 1979. Our main website contains lots more information about the founders of Greenpeace.

In 1971, motivated by their vision of a green and peaceful world, a small team of activists set sail from Vancouver, Canada, in an old fishing boat.

The founders of Greenpeace believed a few individuals could make a difference. Their mission was to “bear witness” to the USA’s underground nuclear testing at Amchitka in one of the world’s most earthquake-prone regions.

A tiny island off the West Coast of Alaska, Amchitka was the last refuge for 3000 endangered sea otters, and home to bald eagles,peregrine falcons and other wildlife.

Even though their old boat, the Phyllis Cormack, was intercepted before she got to Amchitka, the journey sparked a flurry of public interest. The US still detonated their bomb, but the voice of reason had been heard.

Nuclear testing on Amchitka ended that same year, and the island was later declared a bird sanctuary.

Today, Greenpeace is a global organisation that gives priority to campaigns that can be addressed on a global scale. Based in Amsterdam,Greenpeace has 2.8 million supporters worldwide, and comprise 26 independent national and regional offices across the world covering operations in more than 55 countries.

If you want to read more, there are several good books about Greenpeace: “The Warriors of the Rainbow” byRobert Hunter, “Journey into the Bomb” by David Mc.Taggart, and “The Greenpeace Story” by John May and Michael Brown. They can often be found at used book and auction sites such as Ebay , Amazon and Powells.

Greenpeace has a growing supporter base millions of people around the world – those who work for us, volunteer, donate, follow and take action both on and offline. In 2016, over 63 million people followed Greenpeace on social media, over 4 million people were financial donors, over 50,000 volunteers operated in 1138 cities, and 2582 staff members worked on permanent contracts for Greenpeace.

Greenpeace is an independent,campaigning organisation which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force the solutions which are essential to a green and peaceful future. Greenpeace’s goal is to ensure the ability of the earth to nurture life in all its diversity.

The Greenpeace organisation consists of Greenpeace International (Stichting Greenpeace Council) in Amsterdam and Greenpeace offices around the world. Greenpeace currently has 26 national or regional offices with a presence in 55 countries. Greenpeace national or regional offices are licensed to use the name Greenpeace.

Each office is governed by a board which appoints a representative (called a trustee). Trustees meet once a year to agree on the long-term strategy of the organisation, to make necessary changes to governance structure, to set a ceiling on spending for Greenpeace International’s budget and to elect the International Board of four members and a chairperson.

Greenpeace International monitors the organisational development of Greenpeace offices, oversees the development and maintenance of our fleet of ships, coordinates planning and implementation of our global campaigns, and monitors compliance with core policies. The International Board approves the annual budget of Greenpeace International and its audited accounts.

It also appoints and supervises the International Executive Director who, together with senior managers, and consulting widely with national office staff, leads the organisation. Greenpeace does not solicit or accept funding from governments,corporations or political parties. Greenpeace neither seeks nor accepts donations which could compromise its independence, aims, objectives or integrity. Greenpeace relies on the voluntary donations of individual supporters, and on grant support from foundations. Greenpeace is committed to the principles of non-violence, political independence and internationalism. In exposing threats to the environment and in working to find solutions, Greenpeace has no permanent allies or enemies. To find out more about our Board and how Greenpeace makes decisions, visit our “How is Greenpeace Structured” page.

To maintain absolute independence Greenpeace does not accept money from companies, governments or political parties. We’re serious about that, and we screen for and actually send cheques back when they’re drawn on a corporate account. We depend on the donations of our supporters to carry on our non-violent campaigns to protect the environment.

Our books are audited every year, in every office around the world, and we publish our Annual Report on the web every year so you can see exactly how much money we’re given and how it gets spent.

Bob Hunter, one of the founders of Greenpeace, tells a story in his book, Warriors of the Rainbow, about how this legend crossed his path.

On the first voyage of a Greenpeace ship, the Phyllis Cormack, Bob had taken on board a small book of Indian myths and legends that contained some striking prophesies. The book itself had been given to him by an old wandering native American who had told him the book would”change his life” — something which prompted a bit of cynicism in the Canadian journalist, who tossed the book into a box and forgot about it. But he stocked the Phyllis Cormack with reading material for the voyage, and one stormy evening he said the book literally jumped off the shelf into his hands, and he read it.

A chapter that particularly inspired Hunter related a story an old Cree Indian woman, ‘Eyes of Fire’ told to her great-grandson. Just as they were being overthrown, The Cree Indian people foresaw a time when the white man’s materialistic ways would strip the earth of its resources, but just before it was too late the Great Spirit of the Indians would return to resurrect the braves and teach the white man reverence for the earth. They would become known as the Warriors of the Rainbow.

The story circulated in Greenpeace for many years, and in 1978 our first ship, a rusting North Sea Trawler named the “Sir William Hardy” was rechristened “Rainbow Warrior.”

At the beginning of 2017, Greenpeace was supported financially by over 3 million people around the world. Our financial supporters are the people who keep our ships on the oceans and our campaigners in the field. Millions of people around the world also take action with us every day as online activists, local groups or as volunteers.

It is just not possible for Greenpeace to have an office everywhere. We regularly receive requests to open offices all over the world. Like any other organisation Greenpeace has to work within a budget and we have to make choices about what we do. Our campaign work is targeted against the greatest threats to the global environment.

You can help us in many ways even if there’s no office in your country. Visit the Get Involved page to learn more about what you can do every day to help Greenpeace win campaigns for the environment.

Opening a new office, or appointing a representative in a country in which we do not have an office, is an organisation-wide decision which has to be agreed upon by our International Board and approved by our international Annual General Meeting. Greenpeace does not adopt, incorporate or otherwise subsume existing organisations into its structure. Like every organisation, we have to work within our budget, and due to limited financial and human resources, we have to be selective in our decisions as to where to open new offices. Development or expansion is also subject to certain essential campaign criteria. We will only open a new office if this is in line with the strategic priorities of the organisation. Greenpeace has recently established an office in Africa. We are not planning to open any further new offices in the near future.

The name “Greenpeace” is an internationally registered trademark belonging to Stichting Greenpeace Council in the Netherlands, and therefore use of the name requires permission. Once a decision has been taken to open a new office, Greenpeace International enters into a licensing agreement with the new office, allowing that office to use the name Greenpeace. Use of this name is conditional upon fulfilling a whole range of obligations towards the international organisation.

We hope that you will not find this discouraging and that you and/or your organisation will continue in its aims to champion environmental issues further. You can help Greenpeace in many ways – by volunteering your time or services to an existing Greenpeace office, or by getting involved as an online activist. You’d be surprised how much help we can use, even when an office isn’t nearby.

Fishing and the Depletion of our Oceans

Over 90 percent of marine predatory fish are gone and 80 percent of all other commercial fish species have disappeared from overfishing and destructive fisheries. If we continue fishing as we are now, most seafood will be gone by 2048 (FAO / National Geographic)

The world’s oceans are experiencing a dramatic decline of global fish populations. A “perfect storm” is occurring depleting fish species and fish stocks caused by overfishing, illegal fishing, population growth, destructive industrialized fishing methods, and a growing middle class throughout the world driving a growing appetite for fish—threatening and driving thousands of species of fish to crash beyond their ability to reproduce. Across the globe, 21 percent or 1,851 species of fish were at risk of extinction by 2010, including more than a third of all sharks and rays. As a result, our oceans are filling up with smaller fish species as the larger species disappear forever. This is a wakeup call for all of us to consume fish more responsibly, ethically and sustainably.

Fish stocks cannot keep up with increasingly sophisticated fishing technology used today to harvest massive numbers of fish daily for the growing demand worldwide. The rise of hungry consumers around the globe eating more and more fish, means greater numbers of fisherman and fishing fleets harvesting an unsustainable number of fish, and with it other forms of marine life called bycatch. Environmentalists and oceanographers believe that the current demand for fish and the methods used to fulfill it are taking an irreparable and possibly irreversible toll on the world’s oceans and marine life, with some speculating that our oceans could be literally fished-out and empty by 2048 if current trends do not radically change.

Leading scientists suggest that if we continue to catch and eat fish at the current rate, our oceans and seas will be empty within 30 years. Over 90 percent of marine predatory fish are gone and 80 percent of all other commercial fish species have disappeared from overfishing and destructive fisheries. Modern fishing techniques using bottom trawlers scrape the floor of the sea using wide nets that kill and destroy everything in its path—leaving nothing behind. Long-line fishing methods used to fish tuna and swordfish, are catching and killing millions of tons of bycatch including endangered sea turtles, porpoises, and sharks that die a slow and painful death from being dragged for miles in the ocean. Bycatch is a terrible waste and nearly all of it is thrown overboard.

Scientists are warning that a catastrophic future awaits us—an ocean devoid of fish in 30 years, if we don’t change our fishing practices and consumption habits.


According to the FAO, 70 percent of the world’s marine fish stocks are fully fished, overfished, depleted or recovering. Overfishing is the greatest threat to ocean ecosystems today because fish are being taken at a faster rate than they can reproduce. Young fish in their reproductive years are being fished before they can reproduce. Before the 1960s, fishing was far more sustainable because boats had limited access, were smaller and had limited space on board to hold fish. But today’s boats have been replaced by giant factory ships that trawl the bottom of the ocean raking in all marine life in its path—causing enormous and vast destruction and death to all forms of marine life. In Newfoundland, cod fishing thrived for centuries, until the 1960s when larger ocean trawlers collapsed fish stocks and caused the crash of the cod industry in just a couple of decades. With the fishing industry fishing 24 hours a day, coupled with the use of giant factory ships, global access to fishing, too little governmental regulation and enforcement, and more boats than ever before—our ocean life is fast disappearing. But the biggest impact is from human demand for fish.

The Ocean Is Running Out of Fish. Here’s the Alarming Math

Bycatch and Destructive Modern Fishing Techniques

Bottom trawling is the dragging of enormous gillnets along the ocean’s floor, causing irreversible destruction and damage to non-target marine life, the ocean floor, fragile marine habitats and environments, coral reefs and to millions of sea mammals and fish. With this technology, there is no life that escapes alive from bottom trawling. This destructive fishing technique is responsible for the incidental capture of sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, whales, seabirds, cetaceans and young fish too in the nets. Large indiscriminate nets literally pull up everything from the ocean, yet actually use only 50-60 percent of the fish caught. The rest is thrown overboard and wasted. Trawler fishing is deeply destructive and highly unsustainable.

Another destructive technology is long-lining used to catch tuna, swordfish and halibut—the largest edible fish. Long-lining uses thousands of large baited hooks that not only catch these large fish, but indiscriminately catch and kill everything else these lines encounter including non-target marine animals. Every year millions of dolphins, endangered loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles, sharks and seabirds drown and suffer pulled on long-lines. This incidental bycatch of sea turtles is the single greatest threat to their survival. All of this bycatch is then hauled aboard the fishing vessels, and discarded overboard—already dead or dying. More marine life wasted.

Ghost Gear – How Discarded Fishing Equipment Kills

The single largest mortality rate for small cetaceans (dolphin, porpoises, seals, and small whales) and birds, is from being killed by derelict and abandoned fishing nets and lines that are discarded or lost. “Ghost gear” makes up for approximately 10 percent of all marine litter (FAO), and can remain in the marine environment for tens of years—entangling, strangling, suffocating and killing marine life all over the world. Fisherman often discard their used nets, lines, and broken equipment overboard, instead of bringing it to land and properly disposing of it. Between 2002 and 2010, 870 nets recovered from Washington State alone contained more than 32,000 marine animals. Marine organisms documented in recovered gillnets included 31,278 invertebrates (76 species), 1,036 fishes (22 species), 514 birds (16 species), and 23 mammals (4 species) 56 percent of invertebrates, 93 percent of fish, and 100 percent of birds and mammals were dead when recovered (NCBI, NIM,

Illegal Fishing, Black Market Fishing and Our Seafood

Because the demand for fish has significantly increased in recent years, especially in the U.S. and Europe, and current laws are not strong enough to enforce where fish are caught and being imported from—there is a huge problem with illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and seafood. Illegal fishing is a global epidemic and the entire fish supply chain needs to become fully traceable to legal sources to address and overcome the problem.

In addition, a 2013 study by Oceana, a nonprofit that campaigns to protect and restore the world’s oceans, concluded that 33 percent of fish in the U.S. is fraudulently labeled to increase profits.

Pollution in the Ocean

Fish today are full of toxins and poisons including dioxins (from the 60s), flame-retardants, mercury, lead, PCBs, DDE (formed when DDT breaks down), and other plastic contaminants. With the enormous plastic waste gyres consuming more and more of our oceans, and now outweighing plankton by 6:1, fish are becoming increasing polluted and sick. The majority of marine trash is plastic and fish are mistaking this plastic waste for food. When people eat fish they are consuming the same toxic chemicals that the fish have eaten. And this is not only happening with wild fish, but with farmed fish as well. Factory farmed fish raised in high-density fish pens in the ocean are fed the flesh of wild caught fish which has been processed into concentrated fish meal. It takes roughly 5 pounds of commercially caught wild fish (not sold for human consumption) to create one pound of farmed fish. Research conducted on farmed salmon, shows that these salmon are far more highly contaminated with toxins than their wild counterparts, especially with higher levels of PCBs. Farmed salmon are likely the most PCB-contaminated protein source in the U.S. food supply now. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) estimates on average farmed salmon have 16 times the dioxin-like PCBs found in wild salmon, 4 times the levels in beef, and 3.4 times the dioxin-like PCBs found in other seafood. Further analysis conducted by EWG estimates that 800,000 people in the U.S. now face an excess lifetime cancer risk from eating farmed salmon.

Fish Consciousness – Fish Feel Pain

Researchers, scientists and animal physiologists studying fish for over 30 years confirm that fish experience fear and pain, and can suffer immensely from it, just like all sentient beings. Numerous studies reveal that fish and all vertebrate animals are capable of suffering. “Anatomical, pharmacological and behavioral data suggest that effective states of pain, fear and stress are likely to be experienced by fish in similar ways as in amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.”

Large-scale industrial fishing causes extreme pain and suffering for fish that are caught on long lines and dragged for 24 hours, and suffocated and crushed in nets used by trawler ships. Fish are considered sentient beings, so fishing, according to scientists, is a very cruel, painful experience for them. The scientific literature is clear. Dr. Donald Broom, Professor of Animal Welfare, Cambridge University, argues, “Anatomically, psychologically and biologically, the pain system in fish is virtually the same as in birds and mammals … in animal welfare terms, you have to put fishing in the same category as hunting. Culum Brown, Associate Professor at Macquarie University states, “In many areas, such as memory, their cognitive powers match or exceed those of ‘higher’ vertebrates, including non-human primates. Best of all, given the central place memory plays in intelligence and social structures, fish not only recognize individuals but can also keep track of complex social relationships. They have fantastic learning and memory capabilities and can learn all sorts of things and adjust their behaviour. Each fish is an individual.”

Wastefulness – Fish Oil and Fish Feed

Globally we are catching 100 million tons of fish annually. Approximately 30-40 million tons, or 30-40 percent of this catch becomes fish meal to feed factory farmed fish, factory farmed pigs, chickens, cows and even our pets.

The fish oil industry is another extremely wasteful resource especially considering that only 3 percent of fish are composed of fish oil, so it takes an exponential number of fish to produce fish oil capsules. Couple that with the majority of fish oil claims that have been medically and scientifically found to be completely untrue, and unnecessary, coupled with the fact that there are better alternatives and sources of Omega 3 fatty acids that are plant-based and far less destructive to the planet and our ecosystems.

Each of us can take greater responsibility by making choices that don’t contribute to the further depletion of our oceans. Our seas are dying and need your help. Here are some steps to take to help save our oceans today.

Film: Troubled Waters: Documentary About The Impacts of Overfishing