Authorities give in to tuna fisherman and tow Rainbow Warrior out of French waters

Press release - 24 August, 2006
Following a second day of hostility from tuna fishermen in the port of Marseille, who have blocked, boarded and now tied themselves to the Rainbow Warrior, the international environmental organisation's flagship is being towed out of France's 12 mile territorial zone under order by the Prefecture Maritime (the French Military Maritime Police).

A large purse seiner comes dangerously close alongside the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior in an intimidating move.Greenpeace’s flagship the Rainbow Warrior is prevented from docking in the port of Marseille, as the port authority revoked its previous permission to dock. Some 20 industrial tuna fishing boats block the environmental ship’s path to the quayside.

Early this morning the Rainbow Warrior sent out a distress call after being boarded by crew from tuna ships who then tied their ships to the Rainbow Warrior. A further 10 boats surrounded the Rainbow Warrior, virtually blocking off all access to the ship. The fisherman also used water hoses against the Rainbow Warrior and its crew.

The Prefecture Maritime has now despatched a tug boat, the Abielle Flanders, and issued a statement to Greenpeace saying: "I confirm that I have decided that the Rainbow Warrior will be towed as soon as possible by the ETV Abeille Flanders, from her mooring in Marseille. This operation is being financed by French authorities."

 "Greenpeace is a peaceful organisation. In the interests of decreasing the tensions we are accepting to be towed under the instructions of the Prefecture Maritime," said Mike Finken, the Captain of the Rainbow Warrior.

"However, we do not believe we are legally obliged to do so - the Rainbow Warrior has broken no laws and the source of the tension is coming from the French tuna fisherman . The Rainbow Warrior is capable of leaving under its own propulsion and as we made clear yesterday it had planned to do so at 6pm today to set sail for Spain to continue Greenpeace's campaign to raise awareness of the threats facing the Mediterranean Sea," Said Finken.

The Rainbow Warrior, which was blockaded for most of yesterday by some 25 vessels on its approach to Marseille, was due to leave its anchorage point in Marseille today at 18.00 to set sail for Cartegena in Spain, for the last leg of a three month tour of the Mediterranean. The tour aims to promote awareness of the threats facing the Mediterranean Sea, including the plight of the bluefin tuna stock, which is on the brink of collapse due to overfishing, and promoting a network of marine reserves.

"The tuna fishermen are out of control on the high seas and now they are out of control in port," said Karli Thomas of Greenpeace International on board the Rainbow Warrior.

"These industrial tuna fishermen blockading us need to take responsibility for their part in the depleted state of the Mediterranean tuna fishery and look at the bigger picture. They should support our call for establishment of a network of marine reserves to bring about a sustainable, healthy and productive Mediterranean Sea. It is in the long term interests of the environment and all fishing communities, both in France and the rest of the Mediterranean," concluded Thomas.

The Defending Our Oceans expedition aims to highlight the wonders of and the environmental threats to the world's oceans and call for the establishment of marine reserves covering 40 % of the world's oceans.

Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation that uses non-violent creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems to drive solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

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Other contacts: Further information: On board the Rainbow Warrior:Karli Thomas, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace International, +871 130 2412Francois Provost, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace France, +871 130 2412Spain:Michael Kessler, Greenpeace International Communications, +34 660 637 053

Exp. contact date: 2006-09-24 00:00:00