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

 

From Taiwan to tinned tuna: The many steps to saving our oceans

Blog entry by Steve Smith | January 26, 2011

When you hear about Greenpeace taking action against shady fishing vessels, you may not think that fishing in Taiwan really impacts you. Well, it’s not true. Our planet is covered in ocean- 70% of the Earth is covered in water.

Greenpeace Stops Scandal-Ridden Tuna Carrier Ship

Feature story | January 24, 2011 at 9:50

Activists from the Greenpeace flagship the Rainbow Warrior have prevented the departure of fish carrier MV Lung Yuin, demanding that Taiwan's Fisheries Agency (FA) properly investigate and as appropriate, prosecute the ship’s owners, who are in...

Exposed: Suspected Illegal Tuna Carrier

Image | January 24, 2011 at 9:21

Activists on board the Rainbow Warrior expose a ship suspected of violating Taiwanese fisheries laws. They projected messages onto the hull, and called on the Taiwanese Fisheries Agency to investigate the Pacific-bound ship, MV Lung Yuin, which...

Something fishy about your tuna?

Video | January 18, 2011 at 13:40

Something fishy about your tuna?

Blog entry by Michael Baillie | January 18, 2011

Making tuna sustainable Following recent tests into the contents of tuna tins, Greenpeace UK has just launched a new tinned tuna sustainability ranking to encourage major retailers to provide tuna that is as possible. ...

What are the Greenpeace ships doing?

Blog entry by Michael Baillie | January 14, 2011

The Rainbow Warrior Right now the Rainbow Warrior is on a tour to defend the Pacific Ocean. The ocean currently provides 60% of the world's tuna supplies, and supports tens of millions of people with both food and jobs. Yet despite...

Free "print & play" game: Big Oil Vs Greenpeace

Blog entry by Martin Lloyd | December 17, 2010

It may not be the most festive of themes, but at least our holiday gift to you this year is not a tie or socks. It's a free print & play board game called Deepsea Desperation. It's all about Greenpeace against Big Oil, with one...

Sinking Famous Landmarks

Image gallery | November 30, 2010

Dodgy Catch

Feature story | November 24, 2010 at 10:34

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 14:34

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.

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