Greenpeace activists take direct action to halt North Sea trawlers fishing cod towards extinction.
Pirate fishing is estimated to take approximately 25 percent of
the global fish catch annually. It's a lucrative business worth
some US$9 billion a year. In the Barents Sea, it's estimated that
one in every five cod landed are caught illegally.
In a letter to the Norwegian government, the seafood majors
commit to adhere to voluntary industry guidelines adopted by the
European Fish Processors and Traders Association last September.
The guidelines were drawn up to avoid Illegal, Unregulated and
Unreported (IUU) Barents Sea cod and haddock. They also include a
commitment to refuse all fish from vessels blacklisted by Norway or
relevant regional fisheries management organizations like the North
East Atlantic Fisheries Commission.
For Cod's sake, take action
But the companies are also demanding tighter regulations to
ensure that the fish they buy are not illegal:
black-list with updated vessel information, clear legal standards
for listing and transparent criteria for de-listing would be a
valuable component of this effort. We therefore urge you to ensure
that a better list is created, that we and our suppliers can use to
ensure we are not purchasing from vessels fishing illegally.
We understand that avoiding fish from
black-listed vessels is part of the solution necessary to reduce
illegal fishing in the Barents Sea cod fishery. However going
forward we feel that the use of a "white list", or list of vessels
that are proven to operate legally, may mid to long term provide a
more comprehensive way to help eliminate illegal fishing.
The signatories include some of Europe's largest seafood
processors and purchasers such as restaurant chain McDonald's as
well as Espersen, Royal Greenland, Youngs Seafood and Iglo/Birds
This is the kind of action by the corporate sector which we
need. Other seafood purchasers need to follow suit and make clear
commitments to avoid fish from blacklisted vessels as soon as
possible. And the governments responsible for blacklisting vessels
need to do their jobs.
For example, the Norwegian Fisheries Directorate has not yet
published any of the Russian ships that were documented in illegal
and unreported activities in 2005 and 2006. As a result, fish
buyers have no official warning to avoid fish from these ships.
The Greenpeace Blacklist: doing a job governments should
That's part of the reason we've launched our own blacklist and
taken action against pirate fishing vessels and even
seized illegal nets. Because unlike many governments, we're not
about to stand by while our oceans are plundered.
Issues such as over-fished and illegal Eastern Baltic cod,
destructive fishing techniques like bottom trawling and reliance on
severely depleted and often illegal tuna still cast dark shadows
over the future of the seafood sector, including several of the
To make matters worse, the situation in the Baltic Sea puts a
number of additional pressures on fish stocks: overfishing,
pollution, eutrophication (nutrient enrichment of the water caused
largely by agricultural run-off), climate change, oil spills,
bottom trawling and destruction of habitats have made a
catastrophic situation, further threatening the survival of cod and
other species. Illegal fishing just makes a really bad situation
far, far worse.
Pirate fishing can be stopped. Governments can outlaw flags of
convenience and refuse entry to fishing and supply vessels. It is a
matter of political will to deliver the kind of enforcement that is
needed to protect the marine environment and the communities that
depend upon it.
All of us who buy fish, whether we're seafood conglomerates or
buying an evening's meal, need to ask if the fish we're buying is
illegal. And governments like Norway need to make sure we can get
a clear answer.
Online activism in the form of pressure on Seafood companies helped move this issue forward. Be a part of our campaigns for a green and peaceful planet by signing up for our e-zine and action alerts. It's completely free.
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