canned tuna greenpeace chicken of the sea By Chris Lischewski, Shue Wing Chan and In-Soo Cho

Over the past few years, Greenpeace has launched numerous crusades targeting our companies for what we do — fish for tuna. Each of its campaigns is more baffling than the one before.

In their latest campaign against tuna, Greenpeace activists have dressed up as bloodthirsty sharks to ask why a company would kill Disney’s Nemo, and they’ve produced a video featuring one of our brand icons being stabbed in the eye.

This might be attention-grabbing. But it’s not exactly constructive dialogue and it isn’t intellectually serious. No one comes away any more knowledgeable about tuna and sustainable fishing.

Unfortunately, this attack on canned tuna isn’t about science. It’s about fund raising, and Greenpeace has discovered a recipe for success: Target something that’s easily recognizable (like tuna), make some scary claims in the media, parade around in funny costumes — and start raking in the donations. It’s a recipe that Greenpeace has perfected over the past two decades.

But Greenpeace isn’t helping to conserve the world’s tuna stocks. In fact, the campaign against tuna fishing is doing just the opposite. It has become a sideshow that is trying to sabotage a serious sustainability partnership between dedicated conservationists and the fishing community.

Greenpeace has rejected numerous offers to discuss the future of tuna fishing by joining the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation’s (ISSF) Environmental Stakeholder Committee. This organization is made up of scientists, industry leaders and environmentalists who seek to undertake science-based initiatives for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks. The ISSF’s strategic plan (“Make the Commitment: A Global Improvement Plan for Better Practices in Tuna Fisheries”) outlines our commitment to:

— Control and reduce global tuna fishing capacity.

— Mitigate bycatch (or accidental netting of other species) through the development of cleaner fishing methods and gear technologies.

— Eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing for tuna.

— Expand data support to ensure that everything caught by fishers is accurately reported.

— Improve compliance with monitoring, control and surveillance mechanisms that are transparent and timely.

— Improve the health of all tuna stocks.

Our companies have joined with tuna companies around the globe to invest millions of dollars on ISSF-directed research and technologies to limit fishing’s impact on sensitive marine ecosystems. And ISSF is working with expert representatives from various stakeholder groups and scientific bodies — biodiversity advocates, ichthyologists, marine fisheries scientists, turtle management preservationists, seafood supply-chain experts, seabird campaigners, and sustainable seafood advisers.

Greenpeace activists, meanwhile, are spending their time — and donors’ money — producing violent cartoons and dressing up in Halloween costumes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the American Heart Association stress that consuming a wide variety of seafood is integral to a healthy diet. But Americans eat less than half of the eight to 12 ounces of seafood, two to three times a week, that the Agriculture Department recommends. Why? In part because Greenpeace fabricates and then perpetuates stories claiming that the seafood we love most is going extinct. While consumers might be led to think they’re saving the planet by forgoing tuna, they’re really just jeopardizing their health for no scientifically-sound reason.

Omega-3-rich fish lowers risks of cardiac, cardiovascular and eye diseases, and it is essential to the healthy neurological development of children in utero. Canned tuna is the least expensive and most readily available source of omega-3s in the U.S. According to 2007 research from the Nutritional Neuroscience division at the National Institutes of Health, children whose mothers eat no fish during pregnancy are 29% more likely to have abnormally low IQs.

Sustainable fisheries management is vital to our business, our employees, human nutrition and the planet’s ecology. No one has more reason to keep tuna flourishing in the oceans than the people who depend on those tuna for their livelihoods. We are taking a principled stand against any organization that threatens this progress, derides our industry, or knowingly disregards public health.

Mr. Lischewski is president and CEO of Bumble Bee Foods. Mr. Chan is president and CEO of Chicken of the Sea. Mr. Cho is president and CEO of StarKist Co.

(c) 2011 Dow Jones & Company

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