Greenpeace on the mark or over the line?

Greenpeace has earned and has long relished its renegade label. Over the past decade, as environmental groups nationwide launched seafood-industry partnerships and other collaborative efforts to influence procurement policymakers, Greenpeace ramped up its fervor for fighting.

The group trod familiar antagonistic ground in August when it released an animated video that castigated the three canned tuna brands American consumers know best. It’s a cartoon, but it’s not for kids. The characters created generations ago to market Bumble Bee, StarKist and Chicken of the Sea branded tuna are depicted as savage, bloodthirsty killers chomping on tuna bones at the behest of a “Mister Shadowy Multinational Corporation,” who also makes a cameo appearance. It’s violent: The mermaid stabs an apparently drunk Charlie the Tuna with a trident — twice. All in just one minute and 45 seconds.

“The Tuna Industry’s Dirty Little Secret” seemingly holds little appeal outside of Greenpeace’s press office, despite the efforts of Pulitzer Prize-winning animator Mark Fiore. Many commenters on YouTube, even supporters of the group, said in the days after the spot’s release that it missed the mark and that its message was sacrificed for shock value. The angered tuna companies sent Greenpeace cease-and-desist letters, demanding that the video’s “false, misleading and deceptive statements” be taken off the Internet. Greenpeace declined.

“You don’t see that type of nonsense from respected organizations,” says Gavin Gibbons, spokesman for the National Fisheries Institute (NFI), to which all three tuna companies referred questions regarding the Greenpeace campaign. “But perhaps it’s just donations rather than respect Greenpeace is most interested in.”

Click here to read the rest of the feature, which appeared in the October issue of SeaFood Business magazine. 


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