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

 

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.

The oceans are in a crisis. Greenpeace has a plan to save them.

Feature story | October 4, 2010 at 15:47

Our oceans are an absolute marvel - but they are also in a deep, deep crisis. If we don’t act fast, our oceans will continue to deteriorate and vital food sources and essential functions provided to our planet and its people by the oceans could...

How Africa is feeding Europe

Publication | September 30, 2010 at 9:00

Many of Europe's fishing fleets have the capacity to fish two to three times more than the sustainable level. This overcapacity has led to the current dire state of European fisheries. In European waters, the level of overfishing is higher than...

Vigil at the Japanese Embassy

Image gallery | September 6, 2010

Vigil at the Japanese Embassy

Image | September 6, 2010 at 16:51

Greenpeace activists hold pictures of Junichi Sato (right) and Toru Suzuki - the Tokyo Two - during a vigil outside the Japanese Embassy in Pretoria on Monday after the news that both of them were given one year sentences, suspended for three...

Activism is not a crime

Image | September 6, 2010 at 16:45

Greenpeace activist holds a banner reading "Activism is not a crime" during a vigil outside the Japanese Embassy in Pretoria, after the news that the Tokyo Two were given one year sentences, suspended for three years, after they exposed...

Handing over the letter

Image | September 6, 2010 at 16:28

Greenpeace activist Rianne Teule hands over a letter to Yoshimi Yanai, Second Secretary at the Japanese Embassy, outside the Japanese Embassy in Pretoria. Activists in South Africa held a vigil outside the Embassy following the sentence imposed...

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