Greenpeace Ship, Arctic Sunrise attacked by Turkish Tuna Fishermen

Press release - 30 May, 2008
Three Turkish tuna fishing vessels surrounded the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise while the crew of one of the vessels attacked the ship in the Cypriot Channel this morning. Greenpeace is in the area to call for an end to unsustainable fishing and for the establishment of a Marine Reserve between Cyprus and Turkey.

Greenpeace is in the area to call for an end to unsustainable fishing and for the establishment of a Marine Reserve between Cyprus and Turkey.

Earlier, Greenpeace flew its helicopter to document the activities of tuna fishing vessels. Three Turkish vessels (1) then surrounded the Greenpeace ship and one, the Cinar Ibrahim, collided with the Arctic Sunrise. The tuna ship's crew then started hurling lead fishing weights at the Greenpeace ship. Gunfire was also heard. Fortunately no one was injured but the Greenpeace helicopter was damaged and is now inoperable.

The Greenpeace ship's Captain notified the Turkish Iskenderun Gulf Port Authorities and reported the damage.

"This unprovoked attack against the Arctic Sunrise, a peaceful protest ship, endangered the safety of our crew and ship and is completely unacceptable. We urge the ships owners to instruct their crews to return to port for an immediate investigation," said Greenpeace Mediterranean Oceans campaigner Banu Dokmecibasi, on board the Arctic Sunrise.

"We understand that these guys are angry - we're angry too. But the real problem has been caused by the refusal of governments to take action to regulate an industry that is fishing itself to death," said Karli Thomas, Greenpeace International Oceans Campaigner.

As part of the Defending our Mediterranean tour, Greenpeace is in the Cypriot Channel to highlight the over capacity in the bluefin tuna fishing fleet. Across the Mediterranean, fleets are fishing well beyond the quota and placing the stock in severe threat of collapse. Greenpeace is calling on the Turkish government to support the protection of the Cypriot Channel, one of the breeding areas of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean Sea, as a marine reserve. The Turkish government should immediately revoke all permits for its own bluefin tuna fleet.

"Marine reserves are urgently needed to protect the future of marine life, including tuna. The population of tuna is close to extinction - if we don't protect the breeding and spawning grounds now, there will be no fish for the future. By protecting tuna, fishermen are protecting their own future," added Thomas.

Greenpeace is campaigning for a global network of fully-protected marine reserves covering 40% of our oceans as an essential way to protect our seas from the ravages of climate change, to restore the health of fish stocks, and to protect ocean life from habitat destruction and collapse. As part of this campaign, the Arctic Sunrise is currently in the Mediterranean, documenting threats to the sea and promoting the designation of marine reserves. 

Other contacts: Omer Elnaiem, Greenpeace International Communications, Mobile: 0031 6 15093589Yesim Aslan, Greenpeace Mediterranean Communications, Mobile 009 0532 26311 14Banu Dökmecibasi, Greenpeace Mediterranean Oceans Campaigner, aboard the Arctic Sunrise, phone: 0031 207 122 616

VVPR info: Images: John Novis, Greenpeace International Photo Desk +44 207 865 8230Video: Maarten van Rouveroy, Greenpeace International Video Desk: +31 646 162 015

Notes: Notes: (1) The vessels names are: Cinar Ibrahim, Sursan 1, Kul Balikcilik