A large purse seiner comes dangerously close alongside the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior.
(Jump to update.)
SinceMay, the Rainbow Warrior has been documenting the state of
theMediterranean Sea, including the activities of Spanish,
French,Italian, Turkish and Japanese bluefin tuna
What we found is overfishing on a massivescale, and an industry
that routinely ignores quotas and regulations.An estimated 45,000
tons of tuna was taken from the Mediterranean lastyear - while the
legal quota is only 32,000 tons. French,Libyan and Turkish tuna
fisherman all stand accused of illegallyfishing over their quotas,
and some French fisherman have even admittedas much to the media.
No wonder the bluefin tuna stock here is in sucha dire state.
As Stephan Beaucher ofGreenpeace France put it, "Leading
scientists and environmental groupsagree that the blue fin tuna
stock is on the verge of collapse in theMediterranean as a result
of over fishing."
Becausegovernments and industry won't tackle the issue, we were
taking ourmessage direct to the people of France. But the
government ofMarseille and the tuna industry don't want our message
heard, and aredoing everything they can to keep us from even coming
Back on June 27th, we were granted permissionto dock in
Marseille, but this week that permission was revoked for"technical
and security reasons" (with no furtherexplanation). As the Rainbow
Warrior approached the port,over 20 industrial fishing vessels
surrounded it. Our shipdropped anchor about a mile out. Now, we're
ferrying journalists out byboat to talk to them about the sorry
state of the bluefin tuna stock,and the need for marine reserves in
"These fisherman may have dirtysecrets to hide," said Karli
Thomas by phone from the deck of theRainbow Warrior, "But they
won't let them stop us from bringing theplight of the tuna to
UPDATE (day 2): Rainbow Warrior boarded andtowed
Followingan additional confrontation this morning where tuna
fishermen blockadedand boarded the Rainbow Warrior as well as fire
hosing its crew; ourship is now being towed out of France's 12 mile
territorial zone by theFrench authorities.
"The tuna fishermen are out ofcontrol on the high seas and now
they are out of control in port," saidKarli Thomas, on board the
Rainbow Warrior. "These industrial tunafishermen blockading us need
to take responsibility for their part inthe depleted state of the
Mediterranean tuna fishery and look at thebigger picture."
"The Rainbow Warrior has broken nolaws and the source of the
tension is coming from the French tunafisherman," said Mike Finken,
captain of the Rainbow Warrior. "TheRainbow Warrior is capable of
leaving under its own propulsion and aswe made clear yesterday it
had planned to do so at 6pm today to setsail for Spain to continue
Greenpeace's campaign to raise awareness ofthe threats facing the
Thomascontinued, "They should support our call for establishment
of a networkof marine reserves to bring about a sustainable,
healthy and productiveMediterranean Sea. It is in the long term
interests of the environmentand all fishing communities, both in
France and the rest of theMediterranean."
Rainbow Warrior crew weblog
Updates from the crew.
Updates to the story in French.