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

 

6000 Senegalese Fishermen tell their Government, "Make Fishing a Priority Now!"

Feature story | January 24, 2012 at 9:18

We asked Senegalese fishermen what they want their government to do for the local fishing industry. Instead of one answer, we received a shout, a cry, a unanimous chorus – “Make sustainable fishing a priority!”

Pirates Of The Pacific

Image gallery | November 25, 2011

The Tuna Industry's Wasteful Practices Revealed in Shocking New Video

Blog entry by Monica Davies | November 17, 2011

Greenpeace has again shed light on the careless and wasteful fishing practices that are rife throughout our oceans with the release of shocking new video footage, captured by a tuna industry whistleblower. The video footage that...

Greenpeace launches a new Rainbow Warrior

Blog entry by Monica Davies | October 14, 2011

At a ceremony today in Berne-Motzen, Germany, Greenpeace launched the third version of its protest vessel the Rainbow Warrior. Purpose built as a campaigning vessel, the Rainbow Warrior carries state-of-the-art communications...

West African Fisheries Decline Steeply as Government Fails to Act

Blog entry by Monica Davies | September 22, 2011

The traditional Senegalese delicacy leads the way in the decline of West African fish population while local government gives fisheries no respite. The Senegalese Maritime Economy Ministry has failed to save its country’s...

The Oceans Issue

Publication | September 14, 2011 at 8:50

The latest issue of our supporter newsletter, The Oceans Issue, has just been sent out to our supporters. You can download a copy below.

Rainbow Warrior III: It's Thanks to You!

Video | June 14, 2011 at 10:22

Thanks to your generous support, the Rainbow Warrior 3 should be completed in October this year. Watch the video for an update on the construction process.

Greenpeace Calls for fair Africa/EU fishing agreements critical

Feature story | May 13, 2011 at 13:48

As fisheries ministers from around the globe meet in Brussels to discuss the future of fishing agreements between EU and foreign countries, Greenpeace Africa calls for a fairer and sustainable fishing partnership that protects the livelihoods of...

African Voices Tour Diary, part 1

Blog entry by Oumy Sene | April 11, 2011

What is the African Voices Tour? As European waters have become increasingly overfished, massive European fishing vessels have moved into West African waters to continue their fishing for European markets. For local fishermen in...

African Voices Tour

Feature story | April 5, 2011 at 9:14

Overfishing deeply touches the lives of many Africans, depriving entire communities of their livelihoods. The African Voices Tour hopes to change that.

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