Labour list MP Shane Jones has reacted to a Greenpeace internet parody of Sealord's new television commercial by calling it a "treacherous mockery" and insisting that the environmentalist group should apologize to Maori and all New Zealanders.
Greenpeace has rebutted that its campaign uses legitimate satire in an effort to stop Sealord from selling tuna caught using fish aggregation devices (FADs) -- and that it will not be pulling the spoof.
The issue started when Sealord launched a branding campaign using Nelson workers and fishers to discuss the company and its sustainable fishing practices. Then, Greenpeace fought back by substituting other voices and changing the message to a question: "How far can Sealord stretch the truth?"
Jones, Labour's fisheries spokesperson and former chairperson of the Sealord board and the Maori Fisheries Commission, said the Greenpeace version humiliated the "bunch of garden variety Kiwis" in the commercial and that he is livid, Stuff reports.
"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,” he stated. "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."
He argues that Greenpeace wants to destroy New Zealand businesses.
"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,” Jones continued.
He also singled out the Green Party, "the political wing of the Greenpeace movement," for its support of the spoof, NZ Herald reports.
Greenpeace has engaged in a long campaign against Sealord's canned tuna, some of which is caught using FADs and thus results in high levels of bycatch.
Campaigner Mike Smith countered that Greenpeace has been fully aware that real Sealord workers 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," he affirmed.
The activist said Greenpeace was pleased with the impact of the spoof and the group intends to keep it online.
"They are disrespecting Sealord's people, who are hardworking and passionate about ensuring our business is sustainable," Sealord 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."