John West's broken promises

Posted by Ariana Densham — 12 October 2015 at 10:35am - Comments
All rights reserved. Credit: Emily Buchanan

It’s only been a few days since our tuna league table exposed John West’s broken promise to only source sustainable tuna, but it’s been making waves everywhere.  We’ve had celebrities like Gillian Anderson coming out in support of the campaign, and were even invited on This Morning with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to talk about how John West’s customers have been duped.  Hugh's tireless work with the Fish Fight campaign was instrumental in bringing about John West's original commitment to stop sourcing fish caught using destructive Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs).

Earlier today our tuna campaign made it onto national TV!TV chef and Fish Fight campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall...

Posted by Greenpeace UK on Thursday, 8 October 2015


Unsurprisingly then, John West have been doing their best to spin their way out of trouble and keep a lid on all their angry customers. We’ve had a look at what they’ve been saying, and to be honest, it doesn’t stack up. Here are a few of my favourite outlandish claims they’ve made:

1.  John West Sustainability promise

John West says it remains “fully committed” to its promise - but it’s already broken it! It said it would be 50% FAD-free now, which it’s not, and 100% by the end of next year, which it clearly won’t be. John West says only the “methodology” of the promise has changed: but how can the methodology to stop using destructive fishing practices mean CONTINUING to use destructive fishing practices?!

2. Not enough pole & line caught tuna?

John West says the global supply of pole & line has gone down/isn’t enough. But as The Times pointed out, it’s precisely because of huge companies like John West and its owner Thai Union, which own their own fleets, not investing in this sustainable fishing method that there isn’t enough! In any case, John West's commitment extends to a second sustainable way to catch fish, that is using nets without FADs, which it could switch to relatively easily. 

John West made it's original commitment on the basis that it was achieable and do-able, so the blame for breaking their promise lies fully with them. No-one else.  

3. John West gives its pole & line caught tuna to supermarkets

John West is trying to wriggle out of its promise to customers by saying it gives the majority of its pole & line caught tuna to supermarkets for their 100% sustainable own-brand tins. But if John West cares so little about the content of its own product that’s their concern. Don’t try to claim the credit of the supermarkets who’ve gone 100% sustainable! John West made the choice to give it's sustianable tuna to supermarkets - it didn't have to do this. 

The truth is, even if John West adds up all the pole & line it catches (including that it sells to supermarkets), it’s a dismal 20%.  Not the 50% pole & line and FAD-free they said they’d be at by now, and a long, long way from the 100% they promised by the end of next year.

And finally, my absolute favourite:

4.  ‘Non-entangling FADs reduce the risk of bycatch by 90%’

Really!  Wow.  That’s new to us and it's impressive to have such confidence given how new non-entangling FADs are.  Show us the science and we’ll take a look, but for the moment we’re pretty suspicious of this outlandish claim. 

And anyway, this does not stop the bigger problem of other animals like sharks and turtles being caught in the big nets along with the tuna. 

About Ariana

I’m Ariana and I’m an campaigner in the Oceans team at Greenpeace UK.  

interested? Follow me on twitter @arianadensham


Other posts by this author

Follow Greenpeace UK