What We Do Defending Our Oceans


According to the United Nations, over 75 percent of the world's fisheries are fully exploited, over exploited or significantly depleted. Some species have already been fished to commercial extinction; many more are on the verge.

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.

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.

Exploitation off West Africa's coasts

West African nations have some of the richest fishing grounds in the world; yet their food security is under threat. European and Asian fishing fleets have moved into West African waters over the past 30 years after depleting their own fish stocks. Sub-Saharan Africa is now the only region on Earth where per capita fish consumption is actually falling, partly because foreign fishing fleets have removed so much fish.

Click for solutions to overfishing in African seas

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 catch winds up on the dinner tables of rich countries or in their animal feed whilst many Africans go hungry.

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.

Each year, this cash-strapped, food-starved nation loses as much as US$100 million in stolen fish, while the estimate for the entire West African region is about US$1 billion. The impacts of over-fishing have been catastrophic for local livelihoods and the environment. In Guinea, for instance, up to 90 percent of marine life is now estimated to be lost, reducing food security and causing increased poverty.

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 locally operated and financed fishing industry. One that will protect livelihoods, alleviate poverty and ensure the supply of vital food to local people. 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:

  • An end to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing;
  • Elimination of destructive fishing practices to ensure sustainable levels of marine life;
  • A reduction in the size and numbers of foreign fleets fishing in African waters, with increased monitoring and control of those that remain;
  • A network of well enforced marine reserves 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

 

Handing over the letter

Image | September 6, 2010 at 16:28

Greenpeace activist Rianne Teule hands over a letter to Yoshimi Yanai, Second Secretary at the Japanese Embassy, outside the Japanese Embassy in Pretoria. Activists in South Africa held a vigil outside the Embassy following the sentence imposed...

The vigil

Image | September 6, 2010 at 16:26

Greenpeace activists hold pictures of Junichi Sato (right) and Toru Suzuki outside the Japanese Embassy in Pretoria. Activists in South Africa held a vigil outside the Embassy following the sentence imposed on the The Tokyo Two, who exposed...

The Japanese Embassy in Pretoria

Image | September 6, 2010 at 15:54

Greenpeace activist Rianne Teule hands over a letter to Yoshimi Yanai, Second Secretary at the Japanese Embassy, outside the Japanese Embassy in Pretoria. Activists in South Africa held a vigil outside the Embassy following the sentence imposed...

Whale heroes face jail

Feature story | July 16, 2010 at 11:11

Two years ago, Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, two Japanese Greenpeace activists conducted a public interest investigation into corruption in the Japanese whaling industry. The two activists (now known as the 'Tokyo Two') exposed the corruption and...

Why Greenpeace won’t compromise on commercial whaling.

Feature story | June 21, 2010 at 13:11

As the International Whaling Commission (IWC) annual meeting begins in Morocco, there has been a flurry of media coverage over a possible ‘deal’ or ‘compromise’. Often the details, and sometimes the central points, can get lost as things are...

Greenpeace activists paint 'Stolen Fish'

Image | December 4, 2008 at 13:12

Greenpeace activists paint 'Stolen Fish' and occupy the illegal cargo vessel Binar 4 full of fish taken from Guinean waters to prevent unloading.

Guinean fishery inspector on

Image | November 12, 2008 at 13:22

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

200 miles South West Guinea Bissau

Image | October 28, 2008 at 9:10

200 miles South West Guinea Bissau. Chinese fishing boats Lian Run 24 and Lian Run 29 illegally transshipping frozen fish boxes onto Binar 4 Panama reefer.

Pirates blacklisted

Feature story | October 2, 2008 at 22:00

Our oceans are being plundered by pirates. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing – also known as "pirate fishing" - has become a global scourge. From international waters around the world, to the islands of the South Pacific and the coastal...

91 - 99 of 99 results.

Topics