I’m on board the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, currently working in the North Atlantic on our Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) campaign. The CFP- the European fisheries agreement- is reviewed every ten years. By lobbying, taking action and bearing witness where ocean life is endangered, Greenpeace wants to make sure that the EU minsters take the necessary measurement to truly protect our seas.
Yesterday we took action against a French bottom trawler, off the coast of Ireland, in the North East Atlantic ocean. Four swimmers placed themselves in front of the Pierre Jacques Matigny, one of the seven deep-sea bottom trawlers owned by Intermarché –Les Mousquetaires, a famous French retailer that owns its own fleet, with banners that read “Stop overfishing.
I talked to the captain of the trawler, who was obviously not happy about what we were doing, and doesn’t recognize that deep-sea species are endangered because of overfishing.
Sailing to these fishing grounds in the North Atlantic is a way of bearing witness to the ecological crime happening in the deep seas. Deep-sea bottom trawling is indeed one of the most destructive fishing practices, targeting fish stocks that are already overexploited, according to the scientists.Bottom trawl nets smash the seabed and takes everything in its way, even the species that are not targeted. Deep-sea bottom trawling comprises 30% to 60% bycatch – or wasted fish; ocean life that is discarded overboard, dead or dying. Deep-sea species are very vulnerable to fishing activities because they have a very long life span and a very low reproduction rates. Even if they are overfished during a short time period, it can take a century for them to recover.
Moreover, deep-sea bottom trawling is an absurd business model that has no future: to reach profitability, it needs to deplete existing fish stocks. Intermarché’s fleet is facing regular economic losses even though it has received 9.7 millions of Euros of public money: which means, your money and my money. The past and current Common Fisheries Policy has financed its own “Frankenstein” by helping the construction of new bottom trawlers. I don’t want to finance the plunder of the ocean.
Greenpeace is calling on to EU governments to put an end to such destructive practices and to overcapacity within the EU fleet. The Common Fisheries Policy is currently under reform, something that happens only every ten years. It’s now our last chance to save the oceans in Europe by ensuring the fish stocks recover, and to stop subsidies of overfishing and destructive fishing.
We want kids in the future to be able to eat fish and that fishermen can continue their job. But without fish, there is no fishing. We want the new Common Fisheries Policy to ensure that sustainable small-scale fisheries continue to exist.
Read More: Wide open to abuse: the Common Fisheries Policy
Hélène Bourges is an ocean campaigner at Greenpeace France