Magazine / July 2013

[Act] Protect the whales, start from Korea!

We held the opening ceremony with Ho Sau Lan, Legislative Councilor; Mr. Wong Kam Sing, Secretary of Environment; Mr. Lam Woo Kwong, Convener of the Executive Council; Mr. Sze Pang-Cheung, Greenpeace East Asia Campaign Director as our guests of honor.

We held the opening ceremony with Ho Sau Lan, Legislative Councilor; Mr. Wong Kam Sing, Secretary of Environment; Mr. Lam Woo Kwong, Convener of the Executive Council; Mr. Sze Pang-Cheung, Greenpeace East Asia Campaign Director as our guests of honor.

The Esperanza has now seen a decade of service. She has plowed the Pacific Ocean, the Antarctic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, helping stage actions to defend our oceans and protect marine life.  During this time, she has visited Hong Kong, delighting city residents, spreading knowledge about the beauty of the deep and the dangers to its survival, and encouraging everyone to act together and help in our marine dream.

The Esperanza is Greenpeace’s largest ship and last year she set sail on a Save Our Oceans voyage around East Asia, harboring in Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan. Her mission? To spread awareness about the need to protect our marine environment and to assist in peaceful actions on the frontline of our Oceans campaign.

Hong Kong: A Marine Dream

Thousands Flock to Hong Kong Open Day

Thanks to all our supporters (including you!), and that means you, in just three days we welcomed 6,400 people on board the Esperanza during her Hong Kong Open Days.

Visitors explored the Esperanza’s cabin and learnt about the ship’s advanced environmental equipment, chatted with the crew, and found out more about how our oceans campaign works. There were also lots of other fun and informative activities on board for everyone to enjoy including an oceans exhibition, 3D painting, a guide to eating sushi sustainably, and an organic market.

Save our Seafood

Many of us in Hong Kong love to eat fresh fish and sushi but perhaps many of us don’t realize that some of this food is sourced from destructive fishing and fish farming practices. Every year the average Hong Kong person eats 71.6 kg of seafood, ranking second in Asia. That’s nearly four times the global average.

In response to this we published our Sushi Guide to eating Sustainable Sushi, which gives more information on Hong Kong’s five favorite varieties of sashimi: tuna, salmon, eel, swordfish and shrimp, and which should be avoided. For example, several tuna and eel species are listed as endangered or vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Underwater Action

Of course our Esperanza crew love the crystal clear waters of the oceans and so while they were docked here they went diving off the Sai Kung coast with some of our activists to take photos of the murky waters.

There was a lot of rubbish on the seabed, such as discarded fishing nets, baskets, and waste food wrappers, which we cleaned up. The ocean is not our rubbish bin. We hope that everyone will cherish our marine world. Happily, our divers spotted a shoal of fish swimming here and there. These signs of life renewed our hopes to work even harder to defend our oceans.

The Future of Hong Kong’s Seas

It’s essential that we pass on a love for our oceans to the next generation. This is why one of the Esperanza’s main tasks is to capture the attention of young students and teach them about the marvels of our oceans.

We invited 10 schools with around 300 students to come on board the Esperanza and learn about protecting our oceans. We also held a discussion on "The Future of Hong Kong’s Oceans", and invited specialists from several different fields to attend. They discussed ways to protect our oceans and how to preserve Hong Kong’s marine environment.

Esperanza Night

To say a big thank you to our supporters for their continued contribution we organized a special Esperanza night. We randomly selected 30 supporters and invited them to bring friends and relatives on board to discuss Greenpeace’s environmental work. We hope next time a Greenpeace ship harbors in Hong Kong, we’ll get to see each other!

We sincerely thank all those who helped out including those 200 volunteers who worked tirelessly to make this trip a success. With our fervent wishes, the Esperanza now has even more strength to fight for our beautiful oceans.

South Korea: Save the Whales, the Penguins and the Tuna

Last year the Esperanza visited South Korea to help develop our newest office in East Asian office, located in Seoul. To date, our office there is not even two years old and a lot of work needs to be done to establish ourselves as an authoritative and persuasive voice on environmental issues.

We Saved the Whales

Last July, the South Korean government suddenly announced a plan to resume “scientific” whaling. Like Japan, the “scientific research” label is just an excuse for commercial whaling. So we jumped into action.

In September, we set off with two scientists on board, to take footage or prove that scientific research on whales can easily be undertaken without having to kill them.

Less than a month later we mobilized more than 100,000 anti-whalers to send emails to the South Korean prime minister urging him to cancel the “scientific” whaling plan.

At the end of November, we were invited to address the prime minister and explain our arguments at the end of November. Finally, Seoul decided to abandon its whaling plan and the whales were saved!

Taiwan: Creative Action Gets Attention

To raise public awareness on overfishing in Taiwan, the Esperanza visited the island twice last year, in March and November. We staged many creative actions as part of our Oceans Defenders campaign. For example we floated our famous giant hot air balloon in the Taipei skies, while close to 300 supporters created a human banner reading “Fish for the Future” in Chinese in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, calling on everyone to join us in protecting our oceans.

Listening to the Family Fishermen

Overfishing deals a serious blow to the livelihoods of small-scale fishermen. Last year we got together with local fishermen in Taiwan to discuss this problem. We also invited some fishermen from Liuqiu to come on board the Esperanza to talk about how to promote sustainable fishing methods.

Court Rules Our Action Legal

In 2011, one of our activists in Taiwan, Yu Fen Kao, was accused of defamation while taking part in a peaceful action against the Long Yuin, a fish carrier ship. But last year, she was cleared of all charges. “Today is a victory both for me personally, and for Taiwanese society, and gives me hope for our oceans too. Greenpeace's work (and mine) to save our oceans will continue,” Yu Fen Kao wrote at the time.