Greenpeace stays firm despite MP's fury over Sealord spoof

SATIRE OR STINK? Debate rages over Greenpeace's Sealord spoof.
SATIRE OR STINK? Debate rages over Greenpeace's Sealord spoof.

Labour list MP Shane Jones has slammed a Greenpeace internet spoof of Sealord's new television commercial, calling it a "treacherous mockery" that demands an unfettered apology to Maori and all New Zealanders.

But the environmental group says it is using legitimate satire in its campaign to stop Sealord selling tuna caught using fish aggregation devices and will not be pulling the spoof.

Sealord has just launched a branding campaign using Nelson workers and fishermen to talk about the company and its dedication to sustainable fishing.

Greenpeace has cleverly substituted other voices and changed the message to one that asks, "How far can Sealord stretch the truth?"

Mr Jones, Labour's fisheries spokesman and former chairman of the Sealord board and the Maori Fisheries Commission (later the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission), said he was incensed by the way the Greenpeace version humiliated the "bunch of garden variety Kiwis" in the commercial.

"It resonates with me, I was born and bred in Kaitaia, and they look pretty natural to me."

He said the workers were "Kiwis who are just doing a job".

"At a time when people are losing their jobs like leaves in a Northland storm, we've got these international activists demeaning and quite frankly humiliating them.

"They want to cuddle up with Maoris when an international firm wants to drill off the coast of Cape Runaway, and then all of a sudden they want to crap from a great height on Maoridom's most significant investment, the Sealord company, a company that against considerable odds has retained a lot of industrial capacity in New Zealand."

Greenpeace he said, was now "green priests" seeking to destroy New Zealand businesses with religious fervour.

"The first thing they should do is incinerate this mockery, secondly, offer a full unfettered apology to their fellow New Zealanders for having humiliated these garden variety Kiwi toilers.

"In this case the local Greenpeace office has been very treacherous. They're just doing the bidding of their Pommie masters. It's a re-run of colonialism."

The Green Party, whose MP Gareth Hughes had sent a twitter message supporting the spoof, should also apologise, he said.

Greenpeace has engaged in a long campaign targeting Sealord's canned tuna, some of which is caught using FADs that results in a level of bycatch it says is unacceptable.

Campaigner Mike Smith said today that it knew Sealord workers, not actors, were in the commercial.

"Satire has long been used as a way of getting messages across. We're not criticising the workers that feature in this ad. Those in the fishing industry here and in the Pacific deserve to have a future in the fishing industry, and they're entitled to make a living from the sea, but Sealord itself is putting that at risk by its destructive catch methods."

The spoof was a local initiative and nothing to do with Britain, Mr Smith said.

"This is a Pacific issue. It's happening in our backyard, with our companies, so it must be addressed by our citizens. Do we want to preserve this bounty, or do we want to squander that?"

He said Greenpeace was pleased with the spoof's impact and had no intention of removing it from the internet at this stage.

Sealord, 50 per cent owned by Maori and 50 per cent by Japanese company Nissui, said it was proud of its advertisement, its people and its sustainability work, and disappointed that Greenpeace would mock its employees in this way.

"They are disrespecting Sealord's people, who are hardworking and passionate about ensuring our business is sustainable," communications manager Alison Sykora said.

"Greenpeace is attacking New Zealand's export industry and ignoring the fact that our fishery is globally recognised as one of the most sustainable in the world."

When it purchased tuna, Sealord was focused on reducing bycatch and keeping tuna stocks healthy, Ms Sykora said.

Greenpeace spoof video


Original Sealord television commercial

The Nelson Mail