Exporting Europe’s overcapacity is a dead end

Press release - April 10, 2012
Nouadhibou, 9 April 2012 – The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise continues its protest against European factory trawlers that are overfishing West African waters and putting at risk the future of local coastal communities. Today’s protest is happening as West African politicians become more outspoken against the risk of foreign fishing vessels fishing away African fish.

With a huge 10 by 30 meter traffic sign  reading “dead end” and hanging down from a  helicopter dwarfed by the 143 meter long super trawler Willem van der Zwan, Greenpeace protests against the lack of progress  in Europe to effectively tackle the bloated and way too efficient  European fishing fleet

Rather than decommissioning it's excess of fishing vessels, the EU allows some of the biggest vessels to  plunder  the waters of poor countries.

 Earlier in March, European ministers met in Brussels to address the impact of industrial trawlers like the Willem van der Zwan in foreign waters, but they failed to recognize that the root of the problem is the fleet’s excessive size and capacity to catch large quantities of fish that cannot naturally be replenished (1).

 “Ministers meeting in Brussels in March once again dodged the problem of fleet capacity. Unless this issue is tackled head on, European trawlers will be allowed to suck the life out of every corner of the ocean, affecting the livelihoods of millions of people in developing countries.” said Pavel Klinckhamers, oceans campaigner onboard the Arctic Sunrise. “Super-sized European trawlers like the Willem van der Zwan will continue to plunder the world’s oceans and European governments have so far been blind to the critical imbalance between the bloated size of the fleet and dwindling stocks” added Klinckhamers.

 The EU fishing fleet catches about 1.2 million tonnes of fish per year outside European waters – almost one quarter of its total catch. There are about 300 vessels from 14 EU countries with fishing interests in foreign countries. Increasingly, EU fishing vessels compete with local fishermen of foreign coastal states in developing countries.

 While European ministers fail to address the problem of overcapacity, newly elected Senegalese president Macky Sall used his first official message to the nation to address the poor state of the Senegalese fishing sector and the urgency to act. One of the main concerns he mentioned, was the authorization of fishing licenses to foreign vessels. Although the EU has terminated the fishing agreement with Senegal in 2006, Greenpeace has been able to spot several European vessels fishing in Senegalese waters operating under dodgy arrangements.



On board the Arctic Sunrise:

Iris Menn (German) Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner, +31 20 712 2616 or +31 20 712 2617, Email:

Pavel Klinckhamers (Dutch) Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner, +31 20 712 2616 or +31 20 712 2617, Email:

 Ahmed Diame, Greenpeace communications, +31 20 712 2616 or +31 20 712 2617, Email:

 Notes to the Editor:

(1)   Council conclusions on the external dimension of the Common Fisheries Policy http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/agricult/129052.pdf