Activists stop Mega Trawler Emptying African Seas

Feature story - March 8, 2012
Activists onboard a Greenpeace ship have stopped the fishing activities of a massive German trawler by chaining an inflatable boat between the fishing net and the trawler.

Activists block the catch of a mega trawler

Roughly 45km off the coast of Mauritania, Greenpeace activists on a life raft attempt to stop the fishing operations of the German trawler Maartje Theadora by attaching their raft to the trawlers net. The banner reads "Stop fishing away Africa's future". 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. 03/08/2012 © Pierre Gleizes / Greenpeace


By placing their inflatable raft between the net and tralwer, the activists are stopping the ship from making its daily catch: hundreds of thousands of kilos of fish – a level of fishing that is completely unsustainable, and is destroying both African fisheries and the local fishing industry.

The 140-meter fishing giant, the Maartje Theadora, belongs to Parlevliet & van der Plas, part of the Dutch Pelagic Freezer Trawler Association (PFA). 

The trawler is a prime example of how the size of European vessels is completely at odds with what fisheries can sustain. 

The amount of fish the European fishing industry is able to catch is far beyond what fisheries can manage. So as European waters have been emptied, European fleets have moved into West African waters where they are continuing their destructive fishing practices.

Greenpeace Solutions

“Greenpeace is demanding a legally binding fleet reduction for the upcoming reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)”, said Iris Menn an oceans campaigner onboard the Arctic Sunrise.

“The reduction of the [European] fleet is a key factor for a successful reform. EU taxpayers have spent millions of Euros of subsidizing destructive fishing that is putting our oceans and the future of African communities in peril. Neither Europe nor Africa can afford another missed opportunity to change the way we manage the oceans that belong to us all”, said Menn.

The EU fleet now catches 25% of their annual catch outside European waters. Depleted stocks, and a fleet that is in some sectors capable of catching two to three times more fish than is sustainable, are putting the future of the oceans and local fishing communities in West Africa at risk.

As long as European ministers fail to reduce overcapacity, Greenpeace will take action against destructive fishing operations.

The Arctic Sunrise has been in West Africa for the last four weeks and exposed the overfishing of foreign fleets in these waters. Greenpeace is campaigning for an end to overfishing globally and a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world’s oceans, both necessary steps to restoring our oceans to health. The reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy is a chance for change in Europe and a radical reform is urgently needed.

  • What can you do? Add your voice to our call for fairer fishing in West Africa: click here.