Greenpeace activists unfurl a banner urging bluefin protection as a French fishing industry sponsored boat cruise approaches. Paris is hosting ICCAT, the international meeting key to the bluefin's survival, which concludes on 27 November.
Imagine that you are at last year’s Climate Summit in Copenhagen. While NGOs were trying to push governments away from dirty sources of energy, an oil conglomerate like Shell or Exxon organized a reception, where they told attendees about all of the great things they are doing to ensure a sustainable future. This would be outrageous, of course, considering all that Shell has been doing to the Niger Delta and its indigenous peoples.
According to the Wikipedia, “greenwashing” is “a term describing the deceptive use of green marketing in order to promote a misleading perception that a company's policies or products are environmentally friendly”.
Last night, we had our own version of greenwashing here at ICCAT, the international organization in charge of managing Atlantic tuna fisheries, meeting this week in Paris. At around 8p.m., the same French fishermen responsible for overfishing bluefin tuna organised a cruise along the river Seine, kindly inviting ICCAT delegates to get to see the City of Lights at night. Rest assured, Greenpeace was there to remind the delegates that they are here in Paris to save the bluefin, not cater to narrow fishing interests.
Back in 2007, these fishermen fished double their allowed quota, catching over 5,000 tonnes of bluefin tuna illegally. They are the ones who, together with the French Government, are mainly responsible for the European Union having completely disregarded the position of the European Commissioner – who advocated for a substantial reduction of bluefin tuna catches.
This summer it was industrial purse seine French fishermen who responded to a Greenpeace protest at sea with violence: slashing with knives and deliberately ramming Greenpeace inflatables. A French fisherman threw a grappling hook which pierced the leg of a Greenpeace activist, who had to be evacuated by helicopter for medical care. He required surgery and was kept in hospital for a week. Greenpeace International has filed a criminal complaint in France in relation to the conduct of this fisherman.
These French fishermen had already had one amnesty to their illegal catches: they have already been forgiven 1,000 tonnes of their illegal catches, unbelievable as that is. One amnesty is enough: it is just not right that they present themselves to ICCAT delegates as victims of strict management and control measures, rather than responsible, along with other Mediterranean countries, of the depletion of this valuable stock.
The truth remains: if the bluefin is to survive, we need to close the Mediterranean bluefin fishery. In order to pass on plentiful fish and healthy oceans to our children, we need a reformed fishing industry and a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world’s oceans. Join the movement for marine reserves and help create healthy and living oceans here.