This is the latest from Willie Mackenzie, from the Mediterranean.

Greenpeace took action in the Mediterranean today, to stop some French purse seiners catching bluefin. And it's fair to say, things kicked off a bit fast.

At long last the weather had calmed down and the sea had warmed, and whilst the seas here certainly are not brimming with bluefin, we knew the seiners were sniffing some potential catch. When we saw them coming together this lunchtime we raced to the scene with both the Rainbow Warrior, and the Arctic Sunrise, our not-so-secret second ship in the Mediterranean. When we got to the scene we quickly worked out that there was a net with some fish, so we deployed immediately to set about freeing the tuna. We knew it would be complicated, there were 7 fairly big purse seiners, some support vessels and a whole heap of skiffs and inflatables working with the seiners. The smaller boats were holding the net open whislt the bigger boats were circling to try and protect the catch. Meanwhile a transport cage was being towed towards the scene for the tuna to be moved into. We knew we had to act fast.

With seven small inflatables our activists set off, armed with nothing more dangerous than some Hessian bags full of sand. The plan? Quite simply to weigh down the side of the net to let the tuna out again. And it was working really well, lowering the net, but then things turned nasty.

I know, I know, everyone thinks ‘fishermen’ and thinks salty seadog with a cute little boat, and a vested interest in preserving fish for catches next year - but these are not those guys. We’ve already seen first hand how vile and violent Mediterranean bluefin purse seiners can be, and these guys were no better. The fishermen reacted with a shocking level of violence and complete disregard for anyone’s safety. They attacked our inflatable boats. As well as the barrage of verbal abuse, and throwing onions (?), they rammed the small boats with their fishing vessels, and drove repeatedly over them several times, forcing our activists into the water. Then the fishermen in their skiffs and inflatables set about attacking our boats with knives, boat hooks, and grappling irons - oh yes and by firing distress flares straight at our activists and our helicopter. It seems that the death threats they were shouting at us were something they thought very little of.

>> TAKE ACTION: Ask for a marine reserve in the Mediterranean for the bluefin tuna!

All of this happened, in what is supposed to be a well-policed, and well-operated fishery, conducted by a member of the EU. In the middle of the melee I was talking on radio to a patrolling French warship, there to monitor the fishery. They called us to read out a pre-prepared script about how ICCAT had everything under control, and they were monitoring the fishery closely. When I explained we were taking action precisely because ICCAT had not done enough their response was to ask us not to interfere with the fishing operations because they were legal. To that I simply replied that it didn't matter if the fishery was legal, if it was pushing the species towards extinction and that we would continue to take action to stop the purse seining. Their response was "roger that, over and out"!


Des militants de Greenpeace violemment agressés en mer
envoyé par gpfrance. - Regardez les dernières vidéos d'actu.

We lost two inflatables: one sunk and one stolen. Another we towed back, badly damaged. Thankfully most of our activists escaped relatively unscathed, just sodden and shaken, but one was less fortunate. We had to airlift him to land to hospital after a fisherman hooked a huge fishing gaffe hook into, and through, his leg, and then pulled him backwards on a rope. He was lucky they didn't hit an artery. Nice guys, these fishermen, huh? So don't waste your time feeling sorry for the purse seiners. These are the people who have driven Atlantic bluefin to the very brink of extinction. In the meantime they have soaked up your EU tax-payers subsidies and annihilated the smaller-scale artisanal fishermen by hoovering up all the bluefin. What makes me angry is that these guys aren't just ruining it for everyone else, but they're also ruining it for themselves. In a few years time they won't have anything to fish.

Don't let them get away with it. Greenpeace certainly won't.

>> TAKE ACTION: Ask for a marine reserve in the Mediterranean for the bluefin tuna!