Massive plunder of Africa’s future

Greenpeace paints 4 factory trawlers in West Africa

Press release - March 13, 2012
Nouakchott/Mauritania, 13 March 2012 – Activists from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise today painted four floating fish factory trawlers with “PLUNDER!” The vessels Margiris, Franziska, Dirk Diederik and Willem van der Zwan are Lithuanian, Peruvian and Dutch flagged and belong all to the Dutch Pelagic Freezer Trawler Association (PFA). These vessels are an example of the overcapacity (1) of Europe’s fishing fleet, which can and should be reduced through the current reform process of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).(2) An improved CFP is Europe’s best chance to rescue our oceans, maintain European fishing industries and guarantee Africa’s food security and economic prosperity through local fishing. For these European vessels to remain economically viable, they need to chase fish in distant waters as far as the Pacific Ocean or West Africa, since stocks in Europe are insufficient.

“The European Union is shifting the insatiable hunger of their obese fishing fleets to distant African waters”, said Pavel Klinckhamers on board the Arctic Sunrise. “The reduction of the EU fishing fleet capacity is necessary if the current reform of the Common Fisheries Policy is to actually deliver meaningful change for our oceans and for the fishing industries fishing away European and African futures.” said Klinckhamers. 

Despite claiming to fish responsibly, the PFA admits publically that the pelagic fisheries are not well managed by the Mauritanian government (3) Additionally international agreements as the United Nations Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Fisheries Partnership Agreements of the EU allow fisheries of foreign fleets only on a surplus of stocks, but scientific studies indicate that fish stocks in West Africa are decreasing - including those being fished by PFA vessels.(4)

“If the EU and the PFA live up to their commitments, a reduction of their fishing capacity is the only responsible course to take”, said Klinckhamers. “The impact of Europe’s fleet on our oceans and the billions of people dependent on them for food and jobs are enormous. As long as European ministers refuse to take responsibility for the future of our oceans, Greenpeace will take action against destructive fishing operations,” added Klinckhamers. 

During their expedition in West Africa for the last five weeks, the Arctic Sunrise has been documenting and exposing 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 essential for restoring our once rich oceans. The reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy is a chance for an urgently needed change in European fisheries policy.


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

On land:

Conrado García del Vado, Greenpeace communications, mobile: +34 660 47 12 67,

Photos available: contact Ahmed Diame.

Notes to the Editor:

(1)   Fishing capacity essentially describes the ability of a vessel or fleet of vessels to catch fish. It is often measured in terms of the size and engine power of fishing vessels, but other factors affect the fishing capacity too, such as the equipment uses to find and catch fish, the freezing capacity of the vessel and even the experience of the captain and crew.

(2)   The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is a set of rules that governs fishing fleets from all EU countries regardless of where they fish. It determines who can fish, what they can fish, where and for how long they fish. It should ensure sustainable and fair fishing, but has failed to so. A full review of the CFP, which takes place every ten years, is currently under way and provides a unique chance to end overfishing by EU vessels.

(3)   PFA press release 27/02/2012;

(4)   FAO:; Thiao 2009, Alder & Sumaila 2004; Heileman 2009; Heileman & Tandstad 2009; Christensen et al 2004