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

 

BREAKING: Japan’s ‘research whaling’ ruled illegal by International Court of Justice

Blog entry by Tom Ganderton | March 31, 2014

Whales everywhere will be jumping for joy today. Why? Japan’s sham ‘scientific whaling’ programme has just been declared ILLEGAL in an international court! UPDATE:    The Government of Japan has officially cancelled plans to...

Why I support Senegalese fishermen who say “No” to an EU fisheries agreement

Blog entry by Ahmed Diamé | March 12, 2014

It wasn’t just a shout that reverberated across my country Senegal: it was so much more. It was a cry that erupted from artisanal fishermen, a chorus of "no" to the proposed fisheries agreement between the European Union and Senegal.

#FreeAJStaff: The global campaign for freedom of expression

Blog entry by Taahir Chagan | March 4, 2014

Freedom of expression is a universal human right that affects all of us . As Greenpeace activists we affirm this right when we campaign to save the Congo Basin Rainforest from illegal logging, or when we take on industrial...

Repeat offender – the Russian factory trawler seized by Senegal

Blog entry by Greenpeace UK | January 15, 2014

Have you heard the one about Greenpeace controlling the French Navy? No, me neither. But you might be forgiven for being confused by  some recent reports  about the Russian trawler seized in West Africa. Pirate fishing is a big...

Arrest of the Oleg Naydenov shows flag States need to better control their fleets

Blog entry by Daniel Simons | January 9, 2014

In the summer of 2012, small-scale Senegalese fishermen   reported a rapid and significant increase   in their catches. They attributed their rising fortunes to newly elected President Macky Sall's decision to revoke the licences of...

Oleg yet again!

Blog entry by Prudence Wanko | January 8, 2014

The Russian trawler Oleg Naydenov has once again been the main player in the saga "IUU fishing off the Senegalese coasts." In late December, it was caught engaged in suspected looting in southern Senegal by the National Navy. Oleg...

Chasing Monster Boats

Blog entry by Farah Obaidullah | September 4, 2013

It’s been a year since we took action against the Margiris super trawler in Australia. To mark the anniversary – admittedly coincidentally – Greenpeace activists in Chile protested against the presence of the monster boat in their...

Message to governments: Three strikes and you are out!

Blog entry by Sofia Tsenikli | August 20, 2013

The game is on for the oceans this summer. So far the outlook for the high seas is not very good, for a number of reasons: The first strike was the shocking failure of governments to protect fragile marine areas in Antarctica due...

Let’s start talking about tuna

Blog entry by Diane Mc Alpine | July 29, 2013

Because I work for Greenpeace, my friends often ask me questions about climate change, recycling, overfishing, and the myriad other problems facing our planet. I’m always happy to answer anything I can, because I firmly believe that a...

Together we have the power to protect the oceans

Blog entry by Dianne Mc Alpine | June 6, 2013

Oceans do not separate us, they connect us together. They are beautiful, ruthless, and expansive; they have abundant life within them that we respect and revere but, sadly, they are also being overexploited by industrial...

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