StarKist Responds to Charges of Violating the Galapagos Marine Reserve

Last month, the Sea Shepherd Conservation ship Farley Mowat caught the Ecuadorian tuna seiner Yolanda L fishing illegally inside the Galapagos National Park Marine Reserve.

The American captain of the Yolanda L stated at the time that he was fishing for StarKist.

One of our members wrote to StarKist and received the following reply:


June 30, 2004

Dear G,

Thank you for your email regarding an independently owned fishing boat, the "Yolanda L", that was reported by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as fishing in a "no fishing zone" in the Galapagos Marine Reserve.

I appreciate your patience as we checked into this issue. We have determined that the matter is under investigation by the Ecuadorian authorities. If the appropriate authorities find that the vessel was inside the Galapagos reserve area, we can assure you that StarKist will not purchase the fish from this trip. At this time, it is our understanding that vessel satellite records indicate the fishing boat was outside of the "no fishing zone"; however the National Marine Fisheries Service has requested that the vessel's Global Positioning Satellite system be checked for accuracy as further verification.

We appreciate the opportunity to respond to this concern. As a member of the U.S. Tuna Foundation, StarKist Seafood, works closely with international tuna conservation organizations to ensure that tunas used in our canned and pouch products remain a healthy and viable renewable resource. In addition, we work closely with national, state and local governments and agencies on a diverse range of issues, ranging from matters such as consumer friendly labeling, product safety, and nutrition to environmental issues such as dolphin-safe fishing.

Carla Dundes
Del Monte Foods Consumer Affairs

What StarKist neglected to mention is that there are three GPS units on the Farley Mowat and the Sea Shepherd crew in an inflatable Zodiac had two hand held GPS units.

All five Sea Shepherd GPS units placed the Yolanda L inside the Galapagos National Park Marine Reserve. Sea Shepherd crew took pictures and video of two GPS units and the Yolanda L in the same frame to establish documentation of the position of the Yolanda L.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is advising StarKist that these five GPS units and especially the two photographed and videoed GPS units with the Yolanda L be considered as real evidence of a violation. Certainly they provide enough evidence to counter the improbable suggestion that the GPS unit on the Yolanda L was inaccurate.

In addition, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has a video statement of the Captain of the Yolanda L admitting that he drifted into the Marine Reserve after setting his net. Unfortunately for the Captain of the Yolanda L, this is not a valid excuse to forgive the violation and the statement is contradicted by the fact that the prevailing currents in that location flow away from the islands.

We are urging all Sea Shepherd supporters and people concerned about illegal fishing in the Galapagos Marine Reserve to contact:

Carla Dundes
Del Monte Foods Consumer Affairs

We want StarKist to refrain from further purchases of tuna caught from the Yolanda L during the time that this violation is being investigated. If a conviction is obtained, we want StarKist to place the Yolanda L on a blacklist of known poaching vessels and agree to not purchase any fish from said vessel.