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

 

Dodgy Catch

Feature story | November 24, 2010 at 11:34

You know that colourful tin of tuna you drop into your shopping basket every week? Well, ever wonder what’s in it?

Oceans Advocates

Feature story | October 28, 2010 at 15:34

West African nations, like Mauritania and Senegal, have some of the richest fishing grounds in the world. However these reserves are being rapidly depleted by unsustainable fishing practices, often by foreign fishing fleets.

The oceans are in a crisis. Greenpeace has a plan to save them.

Feature story | October 4, 2010 at 16:47

Our oceans are an absolute marvel - but they are also in a deep, deep crisis. If we don’t act fast, our oceans will continue to deteriorate and vital food sources and essential functions provided to our planet and its people by the oceans could...

How Africa is feeding Europe

Publication | September 30, 2010 at 10:00

Many of Europe's fishing fleets have the capacity to fish two to three times more than the sustainable level. This overcapacity has led to the current dire state of European fisheries. In European waters, the level of overfishing is higher than...

Vigil at the Japanese Embassy

Image gallery | September 6, 2010

Vigil at the Japanese Embassy

Image | September 6, 2010 at 17:51

Greenpeace activists hold pictures of Junichi Sato (right) and Toru Suzuki - the Tokyo Two - during a vigil outside the Japanese Embassy in Pretoria on Monday after the news that both of them were given one year sentences, suspended for three...

Activism is not a crime

Image | September 6, 2010 at 17:45

Greenpeace activist holds a banner reading "Activism is not a crime" during a vigil outside the Japanese Embassy in Pretoria, after the news that the Tokyo Two were given one year sentences, suspended for three years, after they exposed...

Handing over the letter

Image | September 6, 2010 at 17:28

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 17:26

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 16:54

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...

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