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.


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


This is why the Antarctic needs your help

Blog entry by Aimee Hoppe | March 19, 2018

Six years ago, sitting behind a computer of a construction company, I realised I needed to do more with my life. I no longer wanted to keep financial records of wealthy individuals and businesses, but instead I wanted to make an impact...

A new era is opening!

Blog entry by Ahmed Diame | March 19, 2018

Like a wildfire, the decision by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) to sanction vessels involved in illegal fishing activities in Africa has spread throughout the region. From Nouadhibou (in Mauritania) to Tumbu (in Sierra...

Illegal fishing - game over for repeat offenders

Blog entry by Pavel Klinckhamers | March 14, 2018

Greenpeace campaigner, Pavel Klinckhamers, looks out for fishing boats with binoculars from the Esperanza's monkey island. Sometimes, results of our work are not immediately visible, and lots of behind the scenes work and...

5 things you (probably) didn't know about the Antarctic

Blog entry by Samantha Wockner | February 2, 2018

In 2017 we launched a campaign to create an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary - the largest protected area on Earth. But why? Well, apart from being home to amazing animals such as penguins, whales and seals. The Antarctic plays an important...

Which is the Antarctic's top penguin?

Blog entry by Willie Mackenzie | January 20, 2018

Not every penguin is up to the challenge of living in the Antarctic, but those that do are a special sort of awesome. Remember, they don’t have the luxury of being able to fly away again if the weather turns bad. In honour of...

Setting sail to protect the Antarctic

Blog entry by Will McCallum | January 15, 2018

As I write this, the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, is sailing South. For the next three months, the crew will be working alongside a team of campaigners, photographers, film-makers, scientists and journalists from across the globe to...

March of the penguins

Blog entry by Akshey Kalra | January 15, 2018

This morning, people around the world are waking up to pictures of penguin sightings across the globe. The penguins have been spotted travelling on trains, arriving at international airports and at iconic landmarks. From Sydney to...

"Fishing from the sky", empty nets, dead fish and the plight of West African fisher folks

Blog entry by Mbong Akiy Fokwa Tsafack | April 7, 2017

Travelling in Africa is bittersweet.  I always appreciate the warmth of fellow Africans, the humanity that characterises daily life and the untold stories of Ubuntu. But there is a dark side. If poverty and quality of life are measured...

My night on board a Chinese fishing vessel in West Africa

Blog entry by Bolei Liu | March 30, 2017

I am currently sailing with Greenpeace’s beautiful Esperanza on a ship tour called “ Hope in West Africa ” to protect the invaluable fishery resources of that region. As part of our investigation and research works in Mauritanian...

Our oceans, our responsibility

Blog entry by Mike Fincken | February 24, 2017

For some people the oceans may seem vast - to me they are my garden and my home. For the last three decades I have spent most of my life as a sailor and a captain. So you can imagine I feel a special tie to our blue planet. The many...

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