In February 2012, I had the fabulous opportunity to form part of the Arctic Sunrise crew in the fight against overfishing in the Senegalese-Mauritanian waters. There were more than twenty nationalities onboard during this ship tour. It was like living with a newly adopted family – one with a lot of different English accents.

09 February 2012 Welcome Message for Arctic Sunrise

Greenpeace ship's Arctic Sunrise arrives in Dakar welcomed by a flotilla of local fishermen on their pirogue boats. Banner reads in English : "Welcome Arctic Sunrise " West African waters including those of Senegal have been subject to overfishing for decades, the effects of which are being felt by local communities. The scientific community recognizes that fishing capacity of many stocks must be reduced in order to ensure the long term sustainability of West Africa’s marine resources. Greenpeace is campaigning in West Africa for the establishment of a sustainable, low impact fisheries policy that takes into account the needs and interests of small-scale fishermen and the local communities that depend on healthy oceans. © Greenpeace / Pierre Gleizes


Just like for most of my colleagues, those were the best days of my career as a young volunteer for Greenpeace, living on this mythical guardian of the oceans.

From 12th February to 15th April 2012, the Arctic Sunrise and its crew sailed the West African waters, exposing and documenting illegal fishing practices by large destructive pelagic trawlers, around the clock. The whole crew did their jobs with tireless dedication.

I still remember the day in the waters off the coast of Casamance, when the Arctic Sunrise caught a giant pelagic trawler, Oleg Naydenov, engaged in illegal fishing activities. This action was echoed around the world.

When I think of that ship tour, I als always think of the numerous artisanal fishermen’s pirogues off Goree welcoming Arctic Sunrise, and the joy of Lébou women dancing the traditional Ndawrabine to celebrate the occasion?

After months of defending the oceans against reckless fishing practices, the Arctic Sunrise docked at the port of Dakar, welcomed by the authorities and workers who had heard about the key role played by the ship in the conservation of fishery resources for future generations.

Here, we held an open boat day and people from all walks of life climbed on board to visit and celebrate the Arctic Sunrise’s work.

How could we forget that thanks to the Arctic Sunrise, hope was born again in Senegalese fisheries? Greenpeace fights against those who plunder Africa’s future and the Arctic Sunrise was its ocean defender against these trawlers.

On board, we formed a big family despite our cultural and linguistic differences. Some friends were surprised and even asked: "How can you live on this boat?" Only people with the strongest motivation to protect the environment could face this kind of life at sea away from everything but monster boats.

The Arctic Sunrise came to our defence in the past and now we assure the Arctic 30 that we won’t stop fighting until all of them are released to sail another day and peacefully protect our planet again.