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Today, we’re releasing five new video testimonials from Pacific tuna fishermen detailing the horrible conditions they’ve worked under. The interviews—conducted in a South Pacific port earlier this year—reveal incidents of abuse, inadequate or nonexistent pay, food and sleep deprivation, and even murder.
We heard first-hand from current and former tuna fisherman about the shocking abuse they've witnessed and endured working on fishing vessels. Photo credit: Greenpeace
As investigation after investigation after investigation continue to expose the poor state of the fishing industry, it’s becoming more clear than ever that American consumers can’t trust the seafood they feed their families. In the case of these particular fisherman, the horrific human rights abuses at sea are directly connected to the tuna industry, confirming that tuna companies have major work to do in order to clean up their supply chains and win back the trust of consumers.
Watch These Stories of Abuse at Sea
Trigger warning: these videos contain descriptions of violence that may be disturbing to some viewers.
Fishermen are often subject to bullying or intimidation for speaking up, meaning the harrowing stories captured below are hard to come by.
These videos were shot in a South Pacific port earlier this year. Three of the videos feature current or recent tuna fishermen from Indonesia, whose identities have been masked for their protection. The other videos feature an unmasked fishermen from Fiji, who details abuse from his time on a tuna boat ten years ago, revealing just how long these issues have been prevalent in the industry. Many of the men our team spoke to would not go on camera for fear of retribution against themselves or their family.
“If the people above you are hitting you, then we are not being treated as humans, but more like animals.”
“It was about one and a half years we worked for nothing. No salary at all.”
“I feel sorry for my friend. He was thirsty at 1am and there wasn’t any water. So he drank water from the air conditioner.”
“I saw his fingers, they were missing. I asked what happened.”
“So you’ll have two to three hours sleep then you’ll start again in the morning.”
These brave individuals and others like them are shining a light on the long history of abuse and slavery on tuna fishing vessels. Greenpeace has worked on tuna sustainability issues for years, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that we must all work together to address the deeply ingrained human rights issues within the industry, as well.
Labor abuses and slavery that destroy the lives of workers and their families, and overfishing that destroys ocean life are both issues that stem from an out of control and under regulated industry. Greenpeace and a range of allies across the environmental and human rights movements are working to transform the tuna industry into one that is both just and sustainable.
As consumers, we should all be questioning where our tuna comes from.
In both the recent New York Times investigation and an Associated Press investigation in March, Thai Union—owner of Chicken of the Sea and soon Bumble Bee in the U.S.—was directly implicated for major human rights abuses and slavery at sea. This raises a glaring red flag that the largest tuna producer in the world has undeniable connections to this issue.
These stories—and the thousands of others like them that have gone untold—are a call to action for the tuna industry. Now more than ever, leaders must emerge to show that they take these issues seriously and are committed to addressing them in their global supply chains. There are a variety of solutions that companies and governments can begin implementing today that can address both the human rights abuses that are rampant and sustainability concerns.
Tuna fishing has become destructive for both people and the oceans—and it must be reformed immediately. Tweet at your favorite tuna company to let them know that you want them to proactively implement the solutions that will protect people and our oceans:
- Tweet at Bumble Bee: It's unacceptable that tuna fishing is linked to human rights abuses. @BumbleBeeFoods, what actions are you taking?
- Tweet at Chicken of the Sea: I'm calling on @COSMermaid to take action on human rights abuses in the tuna industry. You can too.
- Tweet at Starkist: .@StarkistCharlie, are you playing your part to address human rights abuses in the tuna industry? We deserve to know.
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Tensions are continuing to rise in Canada over a controversial pipeline project as protesters enter their 12th day blockading railways, demonstrating on streets and highways, and paralyzing the nation's rail system
Colorado River Has Lost 1.5 Billion Tons of Water to the Climate Crisis, 'Severe Water Shortages' May Follow
California is headed toward drought conditions as February, typically the state's wettest month, passes without a drop of rain. The lack of rainfall could lead to early fire conditions. With no rain predicted for the next week, it looks as if this month will be only the second time in 170 years that San Francisco has not had a drop of rain in February, according to The Weather Channel.
The last time San Francisco did not record a drop of rain in February was in 1864 as the Civil War raged.
"This hasn't happened in 150 years or more," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability to The Guardian. "There have even been a couple [of] wildfires – which is definitely not something you typically hear about in the middle of winter."
While the Pacific Northwest has flooded from heavy rains, the southern part of the West Coast has seen one storm after another pass by. Last week, the U.S. Drought Monitor said more Californians are in drought conditions than at any time during 2019, as The Weather Channel reported.
The dry winter has included areas that have seen devastating fires recently, including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If the dry conditions continue, those areas will once again have dangerously high fire conditions, according to The Mercury News.
"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.
Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.
Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.
"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.
NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.
As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.
"We aren't going to necessarily see less rain, it's just that that rain goes less far. That's a future where the flood risk extends, with bigger wetter storms in a warming world," said Swain, as The Guardian reported.
The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.
"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."
- Is California heading for another drought? - Los Angeles Times ›
- CA wildfire season: Will rain, snow weather forecast end risk? | The ... ›
- California Fires Now Rage All Year as Drought Creates Tinderbox ... ›
- California weather stays dry as rain and snow come up short | The ... ›
- California Emerged From Drought and Is Still Catching Fire - The ... ›
A warm day in winter used to be a rare and uplifting relief.
Now such days are routine reminders of climate change – all the more foreboding when they coincide with news stories about unprecedented wildfires, record-breaking "rain bombs," or the accelerated melting of polar ice sheets.
Where, then, can one turn for hope in these dark months of the year?