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

 

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.

#FreeAJStaff: The global campaign for freedom of expression

Blog entry by Taahir Chagan | March 4, 2014

Freedom of expression is a universal human right that affects all of us . As Greenpeace activists we affirm this right when we campaign to save the Congo Basin Rainforest from illegal logging, or when we take on industrial...

Repeat offender – the Russian factory trawler seized by Senegal

Blog entry by Greenpeace UK | January 15, 2014

Have you heard the one about Greenpeace controlling the French Navy? No, me neither. But you might be forgiven for being confused by  some recent reports  about the Russian trawler seized in West Africa. Pirate fishing is a big...

Arrest of the Oleg Naydenov shows flag States need to better control their fleets

Blog entry by Daniel Simons | January 9, 2014

In the summer of 2012, small-scale Senegalese fishermen   reported a rapid and significant increase   in their catches. They attributed their rising fortunes to newly elected President Macky Sall's decision to revoke the licences of...

Oleg yet again!

Blog entry by Prudence Wanko | January 8, 2014

The Russian trawler Oleg Naydenov has once again been the main player in the saga "IUU fishing off the Senegalese coasts." In late December, it was caught engaged in suspected looting in southern Senegal by the National Navy. Oleg...

Chasing Monster Boats

Blog entry by Farah Obaidullah | September 4, 2013

It’s been a year since we took action against the Margiris super trawler in Australia. To mark the anniversary – admittedly coincidentally – Greenpeace activists in Chile protested against the presence of the monster boat in their...

Margiris Trawler Action in Chile

Image gallery | September 2, 2013

Message to governments: Three strikes and you are out!

Blog entry by Sofia Tsenikli | August 20, 2013

The game is on for the oceans this summer. So far the outlook for the high seas is not very good, for a number of reasons: The first strike was the shocking failure of governments to protect fragile marine areas in Antarctica due...

Let’s start talking about tuna

Blog entry by Diane Mc Alpine | July 29, 2013

Because I work for Greenpeace, my friends often ask me questions about climate change, recycling, overfishing, and the myriad other problems facing our planet. I’m always happy to answer anything I can, because I firmly believe that a...

Together we have the power to protect the oceans

Blog entry by Dianne Mc Alpine | June 6, 2013

Oceans do not separate us, they connect us together. They are beautiful, ruthless, and expansive; they have abundant life within them that we respect and revere but, sadly, they are also being overexploited by industrial...

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