Canned Pirate Tuna

The project ‘Canned Pirate Tuna’ sheds light on how ships from the EU steals tuna from Africa, that end up as canned tuna in Denmark and elsewhere. Meanwhile African fishermen are struggling to survive.

The investigation is part of a DanWatch theme called ‘Out of Africa’, which uncovers how resources from Africa end up as consumer goods in our part of the world – without sufficient benefit for Africa’s poor.

Pirate tuna in Danish Supermarkets
The seas around Africa are full of fish, which gives an income and food security for millions of Africans. Meanwhile, the oceans around Africa are increasingly a subject to poaching – also known as illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which robs African nations for billions, destroys their ecosystems, outperform the sustainable fisheries and keeps Africans in poverty.

DanWatch has looked into European illegal fishing vessels and resale of tuna to Danish consumers. This study shows that pirate fishing tuna very likely end up in cans on the shelves of Danish supermarkets.

Tuna is one of the fish caught illegally to a large extent, as it is particularly valuable. When foreign vessels not reporting their tuna catches, they avoid paying taxes and cheat the African countries of their rightful revenue from fishing.

EU is the world’s largest fish importer, and the EU fishing fleet has more than 88,000 vessels stretching across the globe. It has license to fish in distant African countries like Mozambique during the so-called FPAs.

European vessels infringe agreements
But the European fishing vessels are also involved in pirate fishing. Thereby Europeans undermines poor countries’ sustainable fishery and work against the very same development of the local fishing industry, which the EU would help to secure.

DanWatch visited Mozambique where local fishermen work hard to catch enough fish for a living. At the same time Mozambique loses millions of dollars every year as a result of pirate fishing, among other things committed by Spanish vessels.

Big seas and little resources to control and monitor them means that pirate fishers in Africa basically has free access. The ports where fish is landed, plays an important role in the control of catches. The Spanish port of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria is one of the fishermen’s favorite pirate ports.


Date: 14. Oct 2010

BehindThe investigation

Danida, Roskilde Festival og IBIS has given support to this investigation

FocusFood Production

Food production in developing countries is closely linked to the consumption of food in developed countries. In 2050 the world will feed 9 billion people, which means great corporate social responsibility demands on companies and investors. DanWatch looks at the consequences of our consumption in the poorest countries.