⬆️ John West is killing endangered species. Today John West killed and canned merpeople, tomorrow it will be whales, dolphins, sharks and turtles. Photo Guy Reece.

Today a giant John West tuna tin containing merpeople ‘bycatch’ was torn open in front of TESCO, Lower Regent St, London.

All around the giant tin lay the evidence of the drifting Fish Aggregating Devices (dFADs) which had ensnared the poor merfolk before they were cruelly canned by John West.

⬆️ John West and its parent company Thai Union is turning us all into Tuna Chumps by selling dFAD caught tuna at Tesco. Photo Guy Reece.

The giant tin is labelled ‘JOHN WEST, TUNA CHUMPS’.

Tuna Chumps is a reference to the methods John West has been using to hoodwink their loyal customers – pretending they are creating a sustainable product while deliberately using cruelly caught tuna in all their product lines. We’re sure, while you a reading this, that the John West marketing team are cheerfully munching their ‘John West lunch on the go’ Tuna Pasta Salads and thinking about the next best way to lie (to you).

⬆️ The merpeople were caught up in the junk used to make dFADs. In among the junk were the killer satellite buoys used to find the floating menaces. Photo S. Staines.

So what are FADs (or dFADs)?
Large parts of the Ocean are like vast deserts, places where the sun shines relentlessly on the water and there is no shade. Occasionally, in these vast deserts, there is some floating debris. It might be a raft of dead plant life washed out to sea, a fallen palm tree or even a dead whale shark. This debris drifts on the currents of the Ocean and beneath it sea life thrives – attracted by the shade and the small marine animals that take refuge there. And these marine animals attract predators, first small fish, then tuna, and with the tuna arrive sharks and dolphins. Endangered whales and turtles also seek the shade while on migration. These little islands are an oasis in an ‘Ocean desert’. Little pools of thriving life.

But now a lot of these floating oases are traps. Traps set up by the neo-colonial EU industrial fishing fleet. 

Fishing vessels rope together their own ‘floating debris’ using any plastic rubbish they can find like old fishing nets and buoys, pallets, plastic drums – anything that floats. And in this junk they place a satellite buoy. The whole lot is then dumped overboard to drift in the Ocean.

Each industrial fishing vessels is in fact a massive tuna freezer and each vessel is deploying untold numbers of dFAD islands of debris in the Ocean every year. These vessels constantly patrol the Ocean using the satellite tracking to visit the FADs they floated in the past – lurking until they’ve collected a community of marine life beneath them. 

And when the FAD has collected a rich and diverse community of marine life a large net is dropped into the Ocean and carefully pulled deep under and around the FAD. The net is like a purse with a string (it’s called a purse seine net) and once it’s in place the top of the ‘purse’ is tightened by a crane so that everything beneath the FAD is caught in a massive bulging purse. 

⬆️ The massive nets used by the industrial fishing fleets crush and kill everything caught inside. These three ‘co-incidentally’ caught merpeople are just the latest victims of a cruel fishing industry. Photo Guy Reece.

turtles, sharks, dolphins, whales everything is slaughtered

The ‘purse’ is hauled onboard and all its dead and dying catch emptied out for sorting. The fishing vessel is only interested in tuna but everything else is slaughtered too, the turtles, sharks, dolphins, everything. Of course this isn’t ‘on purpose’ so the fishing industry refers to the slaughter as ‘bycatch’ – a coincidentally caught (and killed) unfortunate byproduct of a lazy industrial fishing process.

Ocean Rebellion’s Michael Collins says:
“If going to Tesco and buying John West tuna means you’re supporting cruelty to whales, dolphins and turtles, and destroying Indian Ocean ecosystems into the bargain, then just opt out. Let’s make Tesco a no-go, because time’s up, and this has to stop right now. We can cut back on industrially-caught tuna, and go elsewhere for our weekly shop.”

⬆️ John West, slaughtering since 1857. Photo S. Staines.

Canned Tuna
John West sources their shark, turtle, and whale-killing canned tuna from Spanish fisheries in the Indian Ocean. This death-dealing tuna is sold by John West’s parent group Thai Union to supermarkets like TESCO, Iceland, Morrisons, Asda, Lidl and Aldi for their own-label tuna products, who then pass on this wasteful and cruel produce to their innocent customers. These supermarkets excel themselves in their double standards, because they know that Thai Union has a dreadful track record. This Bangkok-based company owns a giant tuna cannery in the Seychelles that processes unsustainable drifting FAD-caught tuna from OPAGAC, the Spanish organisation of frozen tuna producers.

In 2017, Thai Union promised publicly in a joint statement with Greenpeace that it would halve by 2020 its sourcing from industrial tuna fisheries that use harmful drifting FADs. Again, the world has waited seven years for Thai Union to deliver on their commitment to Greenpeace, but to date, no meaningful action has been taken.

The fate of the Ocean depends on us all.
Our interventions depend on your support.

Unfortunately, this type of unethical behaviour is typical in the world of industrial tuna fishing. Time after time, again and again, unscrupulous suppliers of unsustainable industrial tuna continue to break their promises, hoping that everyone will simply forget about them.  Thai Union and Princes keep pledging to switch their sourcing to drifting FAD free purse seine fisheries, but they never do (and they never will do).

Ocean Rebellion’s Bridget Turgoose says:
“Time and again, Thai Union and John West have broken promises to cut down on these horrifically cruel drifting slaughterhouses.  If you can’t trust them to keep promises, can you really trust the tuna they’re selling you?  You’d really eat that? It turns your stomach.”

Ocean Rebellion’s Sophie Miller adds:
“Trust the Spanish and French fishing fleets to indulge in this blatant over-exploitation of fisheries desperately needed by the hungry of poorer countries. Go West, John West.”

Find out more about dFADs, watch this video by Ecohustler.

The fate of the Ocean depends on us all.
We’ll let you know what we’re doing to help.

⬆️ John West and its parent company, Thai Union, are depleting the Indian Ocean at an alarming rate. Photo Guy Reece.

Now tuna fish populations are crashing
According to scientists, yellowfin tuna populations in the Indian Ocean are crashing towards collapse. They are in the ‘red zone’, which means they are either ‘overfished’ or ‘subject to overfishing’. The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) recently acknowledged that yellowfin tuna catches have in fact exceeded the “maximum sustainable yield” for well over a decade[1]. A recovery plan, complete with interim country-specific catch limits, has been in place for yellowfin tuna for almost as long as the stock has been overfished. The most recent stock assessment showed that a 30% reduction in catches (relative to 2020 levels) is now needed to allow the population to recover by 2030[2]. That translates into a catch limit of a little over 300,000 tonnes per year. In 2022, a staggering 413,680 tonnes of yellowfin tuna was caught[3] which is 37% higher than the recovery plan catch limit. Even skipjack tuna, the most abundant tuna, is being mismanaged in the Indian Ocean. A total catch limit has been in place since 2018 and, every single year since then, it has been systematically ignored. Last year’s over catch was the worst yet. Total catches should have been limited to 513,572 tonnes, but instead they reached an all-time high of 671,317 tonnes[4].

⬆️ Don’t be a Chump, don’t buy tuna from Tesco. Photo S. Staines.

Ocean Rebellion’s visited TESCO to highlight its complicity in a harmful supply chain that includes John West, Thai Union and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The MSC’s dereliction of duty to offer consumers an “informed decision at their local retailer to buy fish products from a sustainable source” is particularly alarming. After all the MSC is supposed to be on the side of the consumer not industrial fishing.

Ocean Rebellion demands that TESCO stop selling dFAD-caught tuna. Remove it from your shelves NOW.

And John West / Thai Union stop sourcing tuna from unsustainable European Union industrial tuna fisheries who use dFADs. Surely you understand that overfishing only leads to one thing – No More Fish in the Sea?

And, to all you innocent shoppers out there, now you know the facts, please don’t buy dFAD caught canned tuna or any tuna products from John West and Princes.

⬆️ The deathly tableau drew a large crowd during the lunchtime rush. Photo Guy Reece.

[1] Guillermo Gomez, Samantha Farquhar, Henry Bell, Eric Laschever & Stacy Hall (2020). ‘The IUU Nature of FADs: Implications for Tuna Management and Markets’

[2] Banks, R., and Zaharia M. (2020)‘Characterization of the Costs and Benefits Related to Lost and/or Abandoned Fish Aggregating Devices in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean

[3] Quentin Hanich, Ruth Davis, Glen Holmes, Elizabeth-Rose Amidjogbe and Brooke Campbell (2019). ‘Drifting Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) Deploying, Soaking and Setting – When Is a FAD ‘Fishing’?

[4] Pierpaolo Consolia, Mauro Sinopolib, Alan Deidunc, Simonepietro Canesed, Claudio Bertie, Franco Andalorob, Teresa Romeoa (2020). ‘The Impact of Marine Litter from Fish Aggregation Devices on Vulnerable Marine Benthic Habitats of the Central Mediterranean Sea’

⬆️ Our Merpeople will return soon, watch this space. Photo Guy Reece.

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