Thinking Green, Seeing Red


Steven Hedlund

Published on
April 27, 2008

The relationship between the seafood industry and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has come a long way. Now seafood buyers and sellers actively work together with the conservation community to minimize the environmental and social impacts of commercial fishing and aquaculture, evident during last week's European Seafood Exposition. But one NGO still protests like it's 1968 to get its message across in 2008.

Make no mistake, the NGO in question, Greenpeace, is proficient at grabbing headlines. The assault on the Brussels show, which involved about 80 activists, was part of a campaign in protest of dwindling tuna stocks, particularly bluefin tuna. Also last week, the group targeted tuna fishing boats from the United States, Taiwan and South Korea in the South Pacific, painting "tuna overkill" on the side of one vessel.

Greenpeace has a point - the status of bluefin tuna stocks is a big concern in certain waters, including the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. But reverting to '60s-style protesting tactics at the world's largest seafood trade event does nothing but irritate seafood buyers and sellers, not to mention the show organizer. (SeafoodSource News and SeaFood Business are published by Diversified Business Communications, producer of the European Seafood Exposition.)

In a press release on its Web site, Greenpeace claimed it "halted tuna trading" at the show, which couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, I witnessed a buyer and a seller discussing bluefin tuna prices despite the commotion Greenpeace instigated at the seller's stand.

Meanwhile, other NGOs, such as the World Wildlife Fund, the Marine Stewardship Council and GlobalGAP, worked with seafood buyers and sellers to advance the sustainable seafood movement, which is still in its infancy but has progressed dramatically in just the past few years.

If it wishes to actively participate in the sustainable seafood movement, Greenpeace needs to drop the antics and start engaging talks with the seafood industry and conservation community.

Best regards,
Steven Hedlund
Associate Editor
SeaFood Business

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