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

 

Going Gangnam, Greenpeace Style

Blog entry by Mike Baillie | December 19, 2012

As Gangnam fever has swept the globe, not even the Rainbow Warrior was able to escape the madness. So while sailing out in the Indian Ocean, working to document and expose unsustainable and illegal fishing practices, the crew decided...

Death of marine species in Senegalese Waters

Image gallery | November 8, 2012

Catching Tuna in the Maldives

Blog entry by Andrea Rid | November 5, 2012

Today, I caught a tuna. It was the first fish I had ever caught in my life. And the first tuna that had to die because of me for a long time. I haven't eaten tuna for about three years. Not because I don't like the taste of it --...

The Rainbow Warrior diet

Blog entry by Andrea Rid | October 25, 2012

"You’re going to get sea sick,“ Paul our photographer said to me when I arrived on the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior in Mauritius. "I’ve been on all the Greenpeace ships and never got sea sick, but on this one, even I was out of...

Who will join the fight against pirate fishing?

Blog entry by Andrea Rid | October 25, 2012

Heavy clouds were in the sky and the water rippled under the wind as the Rainbow Warrior entered on Wednesday the Chagos marine reserve, established by the UK government in 2010.  This area is a no-take marine reserve, one of the...

Illegal Fishing Vessels Found in Chagos Marine Reserve

Feature story | October 25, 2012 at 11:12

Greenpeace has found two illegal Sri Lankan fishing boats inside the Chagos marine reserve and has called on the UK government to enforce protection of this Indian Ocean reserve from pirate fishing.

There's no excuse; our oceans need action now

Blog entry by Veronica Frank | October 22, 2012

For the past six weeks the crew on the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior have been observing and monitoring the Indian Ocean's fisheries and its diverse sea life, encountering some of the best and worst of fisheries management. ...

It's time for Mauritius to take ownership of its waters

Blog entry by Simon Clydesdale | October 16, 2012

The Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior has spent the past few days hosting all the key players in one of the Indian Ocean’s prime tuna hubs – Port Louis in Mauritius. This is a welcome turnaround. Just a few days ago it didn’t...

Rainbow Warrior in Key Tuna Hub, Mauritius

Feature story | October 12, 2012 at 13:05

Greenpeace will hold talks with the Mauritian government and key stakeholders about sustainable tuna fisheries this weekend following the arrival of the Rainbow Warrior in Port Louis today.

Never again in our oceans!

Blog entry by Bakary Coulibaly | October 11, 2012

If there was ever a scandal that needed definitive action to be taken against those responsible for it, it is the issue of fishing permits in Senegal between March 2010 and April 2012. The effects of large factory trawlers that were...

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