Yeosu, South Korea, 23 September 2012 — Activists from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza today occupied the dry dock where one of Dongwon’s purse seine ships, MV Granada, is being repaired. The activists closed the dock with a large banner saying “Dongwon’s Destructive Fishing Starts Here”.
Greenpeace has escalated its campaign against Korea’s leading canned tuna brand for its unsustainable fishing policies. Just last week, Greenpeace protested at Dongwon’s headquarters in Seoul.
Dongwon, which has more than a 50 percent market share of canned tuna in South Korea, also owns the biggest purse seine fishing fleet in the country – with 16 purse seine vessels in total.
MV Granada is part of Dongwon’s Pacific fleet, which uses fish aggregating devices (FADs), a fishing method that causes high levels of bycatch of sharks, rays, turtles, whales and juvenile tuna.
More than half of the company’s tuna catch is destined for western markets, including the US. The company’s fishing targets include yellowfin and bigeye tuna, two species that are designated as near threatened and vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Because of this, Dongwon is listed at the bottom of Greenpeace’s canned tuna ranking in Korea (1).
“Dongwon can choose to lead the Korean fishing industry in sustainable fishing, or will continue to be Korea’s number one tuna destroyer. The Korean public deserves to know that their most famous tuna brand is emptying the Pacific of tuna and needlessly killing other ocean life,” said Yuen Ping Chow, Greenpeace East Asia Senior Oceans Campaigner.
Five out of eight tuna species are already in trouble due to overfishing and the widespread catching of juvenile tuna, which does not allow stocks to recover. Despite declining tuna populations, the number of vessels fishing for tuna is still increasing.
Korea currently ranks second globally in terms of distant water tuna catch (2). The South Korean government has been accused of undermining global efforts aimed at protecting the oceans in order to prop up its fishing industry.
The government has also earmarked funds for the tuna industry to build new fishing vessels, ignoring scientific advice calling for a global reduction in fishing fleets.
“The Korean fishing industry must support conservation efforts if they want to continue harvesting profits from commercial fisheries. Companies like Dongwon should support government policies to better manage our oceans and reduce fishing capacities. Instead, it is just fishing itself toward extinction,” Yuen Ping added.
The Greenpeace ship MV Esperanza, is currently on its Ocean Defenders Tour in South Korea to raise awareness about the negative impacts of overfishing on our oceans.
Greenpeace is campaigning for better fishery management to end overfishing and to create a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world’s oceans, both necessary steps to help restore our oceans to health and to maintain living oceans with ample fish for future generations.