It is cold, its rainy, and its dark!! No, I am not pulling a late one in the office in Amsterdam. I am looking over the city of Tripoli, the capital of Libya. To the naked eye, the city looks almost like all Mediterranean cities, its green, welcoming, simple and smells like the sea. But we are still waiting for our paper-work to clear so we can visit the city.
The MY Arctic Sunrise made it from Malta to Tripoli after a "bumpy" 24 hours trip from Malta. We are here as part of our Save the Mediterranean campaign. Greenpeace started working for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea in 1986, when the good old Greenpeace vessel Sirius sailed these waters for the first time. It is already more than twenty years since we started defending the Mediterranean, but this the first time that a Greenpeace ship visits Libya. While problems such as toxic pollution or coastal destruction haven't disappeared, our sea is facing new threats such as global warming and overfishing.
Less than 1% of the Mediterranean is protected. That is too little for a sea of incredible ecological values. We are proposing that 40% of the Mediterranean waters is fully protected through the creation of an international network of Marine Reserves. In those areas the conservation of the resources would be the priority management element. This would ensure the survival of our sea.
Some of the most iconic species of the Mediterranean are in real danger of commercial extinction. This is the case of bluefin tuna, which finds one of its last important feeding and breeding grounds offshore Libya. Adult bluefin tuna biomass has decreased by 80% in the Mediterranean over the past years. Its traditional fisheries are under real risk. This is the case of the tuna-trap fishing technique in the straits of Gibraltar which has been happening over centuries. Therefore Greenpeace is calling for the full protection of the bluefin tuna breeding grounds that can guarantee its sustainable conservation.
As soon as the fishing season opens, the European - French, Spanish - and local fishing fleets go after the last tuna in the Mediterranean. Capturing more than is assigned to them through already excessive quotas, the tuna population is decreasing rapidly... Caught tuna does not even end up in paellas in Spain, or on a fancy 8 course French dinners... Even the Libyans themselves don't really see much of the tuna caught in their waters; 80% of the tuna caught in the Mediterranean end up in Japan!
Libya has more than 2000 kilometers of Mediterranean coastline. Many of the best preserved coastal areas in the Mediterranean are here, and we believe they should be preserved through the creation of Marine Reserves. That’s why Greenpeace is here.