NFI: Times writer way off base on tuna


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
September 21, 2011

The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) is taking issue with a column penned by New York Times food writer Mark Bittman and titled “Time to Boycott Tuna Again?”

The column, which ran on Wednesday, detailed Greenpeace’s campaign to get U.S. canned tuna brands — namely StarKist, Chicken of the Sea and Bumble — to stop sourcing tuna caught using fish aggregating devices (FADs), purse-seine nets and longlines. The environmental activist organization’s aggressive campaign has featured everything from a video depicting the animated mascots associated with StarKist, Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee mocking the industry’s “Tuna the Wonder Fish” campaign to an inflatable airship that flew over Chicken of the Sea’s La Jolla headquarters.

Citing the canned tuna boycott launched in the late 1980s after a biologist captured footage of dolphins dying in tuna nets, Bittman questioned whether it’s time again for consumers to avoid eating canned tuna.

But NFI argued that Bittman based his column entirely on information provided by Greenpeace, simply repackaging its talking points. He also failed to do much, if any, research on the canned tuna industry’s recent sustainable efforts, said NFI.

NFI spokesman Gavin Gibbons addressed a letter to John Geddes, managing editor of the New York Times, expressing the group’s displeasure with Bittman’s column. “While we recognize his work was presented as his view, we challenge the New York Times not to let ignorance of subject and a lack of research hide behind the cloak of opinion,” wrote Gibbons. “Greenpeace’s myopic view of this issue is out of step with science, and Mr. Bittman’s lack of research only promotes a misguided agenda.”

Click here to read NFI’s letter.

Click here to read Bittman’s column.

Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500