French Tuna ships block Rainbow Warrior entry into Marseille port

Press release - 23 August, 2006
Greenpeace’s flagship the Rainbow Warrior was prevented from docking in the port of Marseille earlier today, as the port authority revoked its previous permission to dock while some 20 industrial tuna fishing boats blockaded the environmental ship’s path. The Rainbow Warrior had planned to hold open boats in Marseille as part of its current campaign to raise awareness of over fishing in the Mediterranean. (1)

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.

The Rainbow Warrior made its way to an anchorage some 2 kilometres from the harbour entrance this morning and again requested permission to come in. No permission has been given but instead Greenpeace is opening the Rainbow Warrior to visits from the public and the media, who are being brought to the ship by inflatables.

"Greenpeace has not been given any good reason as to why our previous permission to enter has been revoked," said Francois Provost, Greenpeace France Oceans Campaigner on board the Rainbow Warrior. "Greenpeace is a peaceful organisation and will not give in to threats of intimidation from industrial fishermen, but will instead continue to highlight the threats to the Mediterranean and to reach out to the public to call for urgent action to end overfishing."

Since May, Greenpeace has documented the state of the Mediterranean sea, including the activities of Spanish, French, Italian, Turkish and Japanese blue fin tuna fishing vessels. In June, Greenpeace called for the immediate closure of the Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery due to the impacts of over fishing. (2) <>

"Leading scientists and environmental groups all agree that the blue fin tuna stock is on the verge of collapse in the Mediterranean as a result of over fishing (3). Only this week the Bouches-du-Rhone Recreational Fisherman´s Federation warned that their local tuna fishery is in deep crisis," said Provost. "The future of the Mediterranean hangs in the balance and needs urgent public discussion and action. We cannot give in to the bullying efforts to stifle debate that we are seeing in Marseille today."

Greenpeace is calling for the establishment of a network of Marine Reserves covering 40% of the sea that would protect the health and productivity of the Mediterranean Sea. (4)

The Greenpeace fleet of ships are all involved in the current activities, which are part of the MY Esperanza's 15-month global Defending Our Oceans expedition. The fleet includes - the MY Esperanza tackling oceans pollution on the Philippines, the MY Rainbow Warrior confronting tuna fleets destroying the last of the great fish in the Mediterranean and the MY Arctic Sunrise, exposing the hidden face of illegal fishing of the North and Baltic Seas. The Defending Our Oceans expedition aims to highlight the wonders of and the environmental threats to the world's oceans and its campaigning 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.

VVPR info: On board the Rainbow Warrior:Karli Thomas, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace International, +31 646 055 298Francois Provost, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace France, +33 623 590 963Spain:Michael Kessler, Greenpeace International Communications, +34 660 637 053Greenpeace International Picture Desk:John Novis +31 653 819 121Greenpeace International Video Desk:Maarten van Rouveroy +31 646 197 322

Notes: (1) The Rainbow Warrior is in Marseille on the second last leg of its 3 month “Defending Our Mediterranean” tour of Italy, Greece, Turkey and France. After Marseille the ship arrives in Spain on August 26th on its final stopover. <>(2) See Greenpeace report "Where have all the tuna gone?", May 2006: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/where-have-all-the-tuna-gone)<> (3) Greenpeace demands to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), before thefishery can be safely reopened:- Marine reserves to protect the breeding and feeding grounds of bluefin tuna; - A recovery program that includes a substantial reduction in the bluefin tuna quota, and marine reserves to protect the breeding grounds of the species;- A minimum landing size that matches the sexual maturity of the species;- An extension of the seasonal closure of the fishery to guarantee a strong, immediate and enforceable decrease in the fishing effort;- Independent observers on tuna fishing vessels and in tuna farms to record and report the catch to ensure that under-sized fish are not caught and the quota is not exceeded, and provide the information needed to sustainable manage the fishery.<>(4) See Greenpeace report “Marine Reserves for the Mediterranean Sea”, June 2006, www.oceans.greenpeace.org/med-marine-reserves-report