Greenpeace activists were on international waters to bear witness to fishing practices that are threatening to drive the tuna fisheries in the South Pacific to near collapse. In just one day of patrolling international waters, activists witnessed both a purse seiner and a FAD (Fish Aggregation Device), both of distant origin.
Activists demonstrated against tuna fishing operations in the
international waters of the Pacific by deploying a banner reading
"Marine Reserves Now" near the bow of a Korean purse seiner. A
Greenpeace translator demanded the vessel immediately leave the
area that Greenpeace is defending as a no-take marine reserve. The
fishing vessel the Olympus is owned by Korea's largest tuna
company, Dongwon Industries Co. Ltd, a significant global player in
the tuna industry. In 2006, Greenpeace together with Kiribati
fisheries inspectors boarded another Dongwon owned vessel, Dongwon
117, which fled Kiribati waters after Greenpeace discovered
discrepancies in its documentation and reporting.
Today, as the activists returned to the Esperanza, they
confiscated a fish aggregation device (FAD) used by purse seiners
that attracts tuna and intensifies overfishing. The FAD was
documented by a team of Greenpeace divers and then confiscated by
the Esperanza. Purse seine vessels surround schools of fish with
curtain-like nets to catch tuna. A rope along the bottom of the net
is pulled like a drawstring and the whole catch is hauled onboard.
The FADs, which are often made of netting, buoys, and scrap
materials, are affixed with satellite or radio transmitters that
tell them when they have found the tuna so they can catch them all
- along with other marine life attracted to the FADs.
"Greenpeace took action against this tuna fishing operation
because the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, which
is supposed to be managing the fishery and protecting the tuna, is
failing to do its job," said Greenpeace Australia Pacific
campaigner Lagi Toribau on board the Esperanza. "Both time and tuna
are running out. These areas of international waters need to be
protected urgently as no-take marine reserves so that the tuna
stocks and all other marine life can seek sanctuary within them and
recover from overexploitation."
International fleets set their sites on world's last remaining
abundant tuna stocks The Pacific supplies about 60 percent of the
world's tuna and each year foreign fishing fleets rake in over US$3
billion from the sale of Pacific's tuna to markets in Japan, Europe
and the USA. Pacific nations are being cheated, only receiving 5-6
percent of the value of the catch caught by foreign vessels in
their national waters. This is because of the unfair and
unsustainable agreements negotiated by foreign companies and
countries for access to fish for tuna in their waters.
Pacific Island countries have made numerous calls for these
areas to become marine reserves. Greenpeace has joined the fight to
protect the Pacific Commons. The Esperanza is in the Pacific now to
defend the international waters between Pacific Island Countries as
A network of marine reserves, protecting 40 per cent of the world's oceans, is the long term solution to overfishing and the best hope for recovery of our overexploited oceans.