May 15, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Tuna exploits in Papua New Guinea

5 min read

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.

Tuna exploits in Papua New Guinea

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 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 [email protected] or [email protected]

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.

  • The wholly Filipino owned company R.D. Tuna have gained access to a wharf facility on Kananam land, after a land deal with the Catholic Church and the Madang Provincial Government, carried out behind the backs of Kananam landowners.
  • Now the entire cannery (presently located between Madang City and the wharf) is due to be expanded and relocated to Kananam land.

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

  • the cannery is seriously polluting their lagoon, wetlands, water and air
  • workers are very lowly paid (less than US$2/day) and unions are banned
  • RD Tuna ships are encouraging a prostitution trade in the Kananam community
  • all senior managers are Filipino, and all profits are sent to the Philippines
  • RD Tuna pays NO tax in PNG


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

  • Western Family Chunk Light Tuna in water 6 oz Product of Papua New Guinea Distributor: Western Family Foods, Inc., P.O. Box 4057 Portland OR 97208
  • Saveonfoods (Canadian supermarket chain):
  • Overwaitea Foods (British Columbia): “Overwaitea Foods prides itself on providing quality products a reasonable prices. Our Corporate Brands programs are designed to provide products that exceed our customers’ expectations in terms of Price, Quality and Service.”
  • Central Market (Washington State):
  • Harvest foods (Idaho): Asker’s Harvest Foods 415 W Main Street Grangeville, Idaho 208.983.0680
  • Cloninger’s 508 3rd Street Kamiah, Idaho 208.935.2151
  • St. Marie’s Harvest foods 200 Diamond Drive St. Maries, Idaho 208.245.6555
  • The Purcell International head office is located at 2499 North Main Street in Walnut Creek, California 94596. Phone 1-925-933-6100, Fax 925-933-3353 / 3422, e-mail [email protected] Purcell International has a branch office at 18 E. Coventry Circle, Marlton, New Jersey 08053. Phone 1-856-983-8852, Fax 1-856-983-4460, e-mail [email protected]
  • TOLANS (IRISH SUPERMARKET?): LOCATIONS Galway Santry Cork Drogheda CONTACT INFORMATION General Enquiries Tel: 091-741848 General Fax 091-741888 Email Enquiries: [email protected]
  • Distributors of Diana Tuna: Ireland DI
  • A MAIN SOURCE OF DIANA TUNA: BECK & SCOTT Beck & Scott Ltd Company History Family owned company established 1891 Areas of operation Food Importers and Brokers Company Address Unit 1, Ravenhill Business Park, Ravenhill Road, Belfast, BT6 8AW Company Phone 028 9073 4444 Company Fax 028 9073 4440 Company Contact Email [email protected] Company Contact Mr John Spratt
  • Chef’s Trolley Ltd. Hillcroft Business Park, Whisby Road, Lincoln. LN6 3QT. DIANA TUNA CHUNKS IN BRINE
  • DISTRIBUTOR OF GODDESS TUNA: 10190 Goddess Tuna Chunks/Oil 6×1880g 359-377 Holloway Road London N7 0RN England, UK TEL: 020-7609 9139 FAX: 020-7700 0345 EMAIL: [email protected] Mamma Roma Ltd
  • More than 50 years of serving the Filipino Grocer.
  • Canned food Le Pecheur Le Pêcheur (=French expression for the fisherman), high class canned fish in general in household packings for the field of delicatessen of the retailing chains.

Many thanks to Leah Marie Wright for this panui ~

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