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

 

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...

Creating a debate on sustainable tuna fishing is the first step towards change

Blog entry by Oliver Knowles, Greenpeace International | May 22, 2013

Our second ship tour of the Indian Ocean as part of the campaign for sustainable tuna fisheries ended last week. Combined with last year's tour, Greenpeace has been patrolling the region for illegal and unsustainable fishing practices...

Indian Ocean Tuna Commission - Where To From Here

Blog entry by Dianne Mc Alpine | May 13, 2013

Forest destruction is visible; you can see the trees disappearing, the animals torn from their homes. But ocean destruction is hidden; our planet, which is predominantly blue, is under threat by industrialised fishing fleets, weak...

The loophole in our tuna labels

Blog entry by Dianne Mc Alpine | April 29, 2013

Today I discovered I am not the only South African in the Indian Ocean.   On the fringes of the Mauritian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is an area where fishing vessels offload their catch to another, often bigger, ship.  And it is...

Go far, go together

Blog entry by Dianne Mc Alpine | April 22, 2013

There is an African saying, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” The past week I have spent on board the Esperanza in the Indian Ocean documenting illegal fishing has taught me this. Working in a...

Esperanza In The Indian Ocean

Image gallery | April 22, 2013

Hope on the high seas

Blog entry by Dianne Mc Alpine | April 19, 2013

The royal blue waters of the Indian Ocean give nothing away. Keeping my eyes focused on the horizon, I search for the presence of a ship or a Fish Aggregating Device (a FAD). But there is stillness here. I don’t know if this is...

We are all "Thiof" defenders

Blog entry by Philippe Ahodékon, Greenpeace Africa Volunteer | April 4, 2013

Greenpeace's call for the preservation of the Senegalese "thiof" and the termination of its marketing by supermarkets, including the Casino Group, was a resounding success at the 14th International Fair of Agriculture and Animal...

The decision that Senegal, and Africa needs

Blog entry by Ahmed Diame | March 28, 2013

A message to Macky Sall, Senegalese President: Your Excellency: Greenpeace wishes to congratulate you for your decision to ban monster boats from accessing our precious Senegalese waters. Indeed, this is not only a courageous...

Casino Supermarkets: Profiting from Plunder

Blog entry by Mike Baillie | February 22, 2013

Senegal’s most iconic fish species, the thiof, is severely threatened due to overfishing. Despite this, one of the country’s largest supermarket chains, is continuing to sell the fish, driving the species to the point of complete...

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