Rainbow Warrior crew take action in Taiwan to defend tuna

Feature story - January 24, 2011
Kaoshiung, Taiwan - A blacklisted tuna factory ship was blocked from leaving port today by Greenpeace climbers from the Rainbow Warrior. They locked themselves to the anchor chain while campaigners called on Taiwan's Fisheries Agency to investigate the ship’s owners, who are in apparent breach of Taiwan’s laws.

Direct action

An activist is sprayed with water from above as he hangs from the anchor chain of the Lung Yuin. © Greenpeace/ Paul Hilton

The departure of the Pacific-bound fish carrier, Lung Yuin was delayed for several hours until one of our activists was taken off the anchor chain by police and arrested. She has now been released without charges.

The Lung Yuin has left port to facilitate the plunder of tuna from the Pacific Ocean, which will eventually end up for sale in Japan, Taiwan and the US. The ship, which is one of the vessels on the Greenpeace blacklist, was apprehended in Japan in 2004 for illegal fishing and has faced allegations of onboard human rights abuses in recent years.

Taiwanese Lungsoon Group, owners of Lung Yuin, has a fleet of thirteen tuna long-line fishing vessels, and frequently delivers frozen tuna to Japan's lucrative sashimi market. It also provides albacore tuna to the US tinned tuna brands Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea and Starkist.

  Pirate fishing vessel?

Messages questioning the legality of the blacklisted vessel were projected onto the hull of the Lung Yuin from the Rainbow Warrior. © Greenpeace/ Paul Hilton


The Rainbow Warrior crew initially called attention Saturday night to the Lung Yuin by projecting messages including "Illegal in Taiwan?" "Investigate now!" and "Pacific tuna plunder" on the side of the ship. And Taiwan’s Fisheries Agency confirmed to us early this morning that the vessel’s owners have not registered their flag of convenience operations in Taiwan as required by Taiwanese law.

Industrial fishing is rampant in in the Pacific ocean, home to the fisheries that supply roughly 60 percent of the world's tuna. Scientists have warned that Pacific bigeye and yellowfin tuna stocks are already in sharp decline because of legal and illegal overfishing, and the long-line fleets, like those helped by  the Lung Yuin in the Pacific are poorly regulated and frequently engage in pirate fishing.

Refrigerated factory ships, like the Lung Yuin, are also known as 'reefers' and are often used as getaway vehicles for smuggling tuna out of the Pacific region. The illegal transfer of fish at sea is thought to be rampant in the Pacific, where it was documented for the first time in 2008 by Greenpeace.

Defending our Pacific

The Rainbow Warrior is on a tour of East Asia - highlighting the urgent need to protect ocean life in the Pacific from destructive industrial fishing fleets and create marine reserves - areas of ocean off-limits to fishing and other industrial activities. Greenpeace East Asia has joined with local Taiwanese groups to call attention to the plight of our last tuna stocks and urge the Taiwanese government to support efforts to defend our oceans and better regulate its tuna fleet - one of the world’s largest.

The depletion of the remaining Pacific tuna is not just felt in the Pacific Islands but also in places like Taiwan - where coastal tuna fisheries have suffered. Small scale fishermen get less and less big fish, and markets see fewer tuna.

The solutions

"Consumers and corporate seafood buyers need to reject unsustainable tuna products coming from these shady industrial fishing operations in the Pacific. And it's time for governments to act and get down to the business of sustainable tuna fishingfishing." - Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International Oceans Campaigner

Taiwan needs to support the improvement of international regulation for Pacific tuna fisheries and the creation of large marine reserves in the Pacific Commons. Fishing efforts need to be reduced by 50 percent together with an immediate ban on the transfer of fish at sea.

Our oceans are in need of ambitious and effective conservation measures. That’s why Greenpeace is campaigning for a global network of marine reserves covering 40 percent of the world’s oceans and for a more sustainable fishing industry that operates outside of those reserves. This is just the beginning of our work in Taiwan ans East Asia.

Take action: Support the call for the global network of marine reserves

Follow the Rainbow Warrior’s tour of East Asia