Tuna exploits in Papua New Guinea

Tuna exploits in Papua New Guinea

Support our journalism. Become a Patron!
September 19, 2009

Prostitution, marine life destruction, pollution and bad smells. Watch how the tuna industry is damaging the Madang Lagoon people and their resources in Papua New Guinea.

In 1905, the Catholic Church acquired 860 hectares of the Kananam peoples traditional territory, at a time when Madang, a province in Papua New Guinea, was administered by the Germans. Soon after, the Church built a mission and a local economy, planting some 28,650 coconut palms and 28,550 rubber trees.

Years later, as the local population swelled and economic needs reached new heights, the Kananam started asking the Church to give back the land, which they did not have any legal right to in the first place. The Kananam were turned down time and again, eventually leading the people to sabotage the mission property.

The Church conceded in 1996. However, instead of returning the land to the traditional owners, they gave it to the provincial government. The Church said at the time that it was “for the benefit of the people”—so the land could be developed. The government, in turn, sold it to RD Tuna Canners Ltd., a branch of the RD Group of companies based in the Philippines.

RD Tuna, who today ships out to various food chains in Canada, the United States, Belfast and elsewhere, wasted no time setting up shop.

Admittedly, the company brought in some news jobs, but with them came the inevitable consequence of “development,” opening the gates to a new era of hardship for the Kananam People: Environmental pollution (from Sewage and fish waste being poured directly into local rivers and solid waste buried in various locations) and chemical spills (which have claimed human and marine life in the past), discrimination, and the gradual breakdown of Kananam society.

And prostitution, according to the Friends of Kananam and the Idawad Association of Kananam landowners, who are actively opposing RD Tuna. Both groups say that Kananam Women, and in some cases, young girls, are pressured into trading sex for Tuna and money. The spread of HIV/AIDS is a major concern right now.

To make matters even worse, the government is preparing a massive expansion of RD Tuna’s operation. They want to build another 10 canneries.

This could mean the end of the Kananam’s way of life. It most certainly guarantees the end of the Bluefin, Yellowfin and Big Eye populations, all of which will be wiped out in the next few years if they are not allowed to recover.

To learn more, please visit http://www.rdtunapng.com/. Thanks to the Mineral Policy Institute.

What You Can Do

1. Write or send a message to the Prime Minister of Papua New Guniea, Sir Michael Somare at (675) 327 7494 or by email, at betha_somare@pm.gov.pg or pmsmedia@pm.gov.pg

2. Help Boycott RD Tuna who sells their product under 11 different brand names around the world. (see below)

Boycott Information

Members of the Kananam community (Madang, Papua New Guinea) formed the Idawad Association to protest RD Tuna’s huge tuna cannery on their land.

Kananam leaders such as James Sungai and Francis Gem are furious, and point out that:


Support the Kananam people – don’t buy RD Tuna products, under these names: – Omega, Tovos, Loreley, Goddess, Cana, La Miranda, Adria, Everday, Diana, Le Pecheur, Les Doris, La Perla, Osprey.

Suppliers/Imports of RD Tuna

We're fighting for our lives

Indigenous Peoples are putting their bodies on the line and it's our responsibility to make sure you know why. That takes time, expertise and resources - and we're up against a constant tide of misinformation and distorted coverage. By supporting IC you're empowering the kind of journalism we need, at the moment we need it most.

independent uncompromising indigenous
Except where otherwise noted, articles on this website are licensed under a Creative Commons License