What We Do Defending Our Oceans

Over-fishing is emptying the seas faster than nature can replenish it, threatening the food security of hundreds of millions of people.

Destructive fishing, climate change and polluting industries are threatening the survival of many fish species, whale and dolphin populations and whole marine ecosystems.

Greenpeace activists paint 'Stolen Fish' on the hull of the illegal cargo vessel Binar 4 before occupying it to prevent the unloading of fish stolen from Guinean waters.

Exploitation off West Africa's coasts

The waters off West-Africa are amongst the most fertile in the world. Due to the upwelling phenomenon, observed only in a few areas worldwide, deep nutrient rich water comes to the surface providing the fundament for a complex and plentiful food web, which is able to supply food and income for the sub-Saharan countries bordering these waters.  Although the resources appear to be inexhaustible, the contrary can be observed: fish stocks are dwindling, and fishermen are struggling to make a living.

 

Guinean fishery inspector on-board the Chinese pirate vessel Lian Run 14, arrested for fishing illegally inside the Guinean Exclusive Economy Zone EEZ.

Anxious to earn hard currency to service their national debt, the governments of African coastal nations have been selling the right to fish in their waters to hi-tech, foreign industrial fleets. The hope is that increased fish production will help local economies by providing more jobs, more money and more food.

In reality, this super-efficient factory fishing does nothing of the kind. Instead, in the almost total absence of monitoring, control, surveillance and management plans, too many fish are taken from African waters. 

The foreign fishing fleets take their catch to ports far from Africa, making millions of dollars, while Africa's coastal communities grow poorer.

In just one day in 2001, a Greenpeace ship observed that over one third of the vessels fishing off the coast of Guinea were there illegally, fishing well inside the Guinean exclusive economic zone. In 2006 during a follow-up survey, the number of ships fishing illegally had risen to half.

Solutions

Greenpeace is campaigning to stop the theft of fish from African seas and to develop viable alternatives to overfishing. Alternatives that will help develop a sustainable locally operated and financed fishing industry. One that will protect livelihoods, alleviate poverty, preserve the marine environment and ensure the supply of vital food to local people for generations to come. This would help restore the region's highly degraded marine environment without negatively impacting Africans' food security.

As the captain of a local fishing boat sums it up, "If we don't have a sustainable policy for this sector, we will have no fishing whatsoever... We urgently need to carry out a sustainable policy, especially for small-scale fishery. The whole region depends on small-scale fishery."

Greenpeace is calling for:

  • Africa's waters managed regionally by a well functioning effective regional fisheries management organisation;
  • Elimination of destructive fishing practices to ensure sustainable levels of marine life;
  • A reduction in the size and numbers of fleets fishing in African waters, with increased monitoring and control of those that remain;
  • A network of well enforced ocean sanctuaries across the region;
  • Sustainable fishing and fish processing operations managed and financed by Africans, providing livelihoods, food security and enabling poverty alleviation in the region;
  • Africa's waters managed by well funded, functioning regional oceans management organisations.

The latest updates

 

Cooperation urgently required to ensure a future for West African fisheries

Feature story | May 9, 2016 at 14:06

We humans love drawing lines on maps. Over many centuries borders have been created by our peoples or have been imposed on them, separating our languages, our cultures, our traditions. But fish knows no borders, they migrate from the waters of...

Honourable Minister, it is not too late to fix the situation!

Blog entry by Prudence Wanko | April 11, 2016

Your predecessors have legitimized a form of illegal unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), by allowing fishing companies to underreport the gross tonnage of their industrial vessels for more than thirty years in Senegal. They...

New Year's plastic resolution: 5 simple ways to help the ocean

Blog entry by Willie Mackenzie | January 20, 2016

The New Year’s storms have brought a lurid, unmissable reminder to UK beaches, with thousands of  bright pink detergent bottles  being churned up by the sea. As waves of highly-visible plastic trash hit British beaches, it’s a timely...

Thank you for letting me be a part of your journey

Blog entry by Kumi Naidoo | January 4, 2016

Dear Friends,  As I look out my window here in Amsterdam, winter is nearly here, and with it comes the retreat of another year, and the passing of what has been to make way for the spring and the new. As the days get shorter and the...

For the future of fisheries in West-Africa

Blog entry by Prudence Wanko | May 7, 2015

By Prudence Wanko In order to see fisheries reborn, West African States must take up their responsibility to eradicate all forms of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, including a practice which is slowly killing a...

“Monster Boats” Are No Storybook Villains

Blog entry by Prudence Wanko | November 20, 2014

Overfishing is no fairy tale; it’s a sad, harsh reality of life in the ocean today. Already, 90% of fish stocks are either fully or overexploited and that wave of lifeless oceans is already spreading to West African waters. Once...

Here's how we’ll eradicate Illegal Fishing in West Africa

Blog entry by Ahmed Diamé | July 7, 2014

My years as an oceans campaigner in Senegal have really allowed me to understand many facets of illegal fishing in this part of the world.  Along with the devastating effects it has on fishing communities, slashing jobs and the size of...

Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards

Blog entry by Richard Page | June 27, 2014

Recently, after sifting through a box of dusty 45s, I have had a Billy Bragg song, Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards , firmly stuck in my head. The song has lodged itself there, not just because it has a nifty piano hook, but...

BREAKING: Japan’s ‘research whaling’ ruled illegal by International Court of Justice

Blog entry by Tom Ganderton | March 31, 2014

Whales everywhere will be jumping for joy today. Why? Japan’s sham ‘scientific whaling’ programme has just been declared ILLEGAL in an international court! UPDATE:    The Government of Japan has officially cancelled plans to...

Why I support Senegalese fishermen who say “No” to an EU fisheries agreement

Blog entry by Ahmed Diamé | March 12, 2014

It wasn’t just a shout that reverberated across my country Senegal: it was so much more. It was a cry that erupted from artisanal fishermen, a chorus of "no" to the proposed fisheries agreement between the European Union and Senegal.

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