Make Piracy History

Press release - 27 February, 2006
After spending 73 days at sea defending the whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, the Greenpeace ship MY Esperanza is preparing to set sail again, this time to turn world attention on the plague of pirate fishing (1). Every day, in every ocean, pirate fishing boats are stealing fish and leaving a trail of environmental destruction in their wake.

Frozen tuna being transhipped on lines in air between ships.

Greenpeace and the Environmental Justice Foundation are workingtogether to expose the pirate fishing fleets that operate withoutsanction across the globe. Together the international environment andhuman rights organisations are demanding that governments close portsto ban pirates, deny them access to markets and prosecute companiessupporting them.

Globally,pirate fishing could be worth anywhere between US$4 billion andUS$9billion a year - 20% of the total fish catch. It is estimated thatpirate fishing just in sub Saharan Africa is worth US$1billion dollarsannually, while in the waters of the Southern Ocean, up to 50% of thevaluable Patagonian Toothfish may come from illegal activities. Furthernorth in the Baltic Sea 40% of the cod caught in 2002/2003 is estimatedto have been taken illegal.

In the Atlantic Ocean alone, piratevessels cash in on the lucrative market for tuna, taking thousands oftons of fish, in complete contravention of international regulations.The fish are then transferred to refrigerated cargo ships, known asreefers, "laundered" through legal ports and sold on into the market.

"Piratefishing of Atlantic tuna is just one example of a global problem inevery ocean and with almost every type of fish." said Sebastian Losadaof Greenpeace Spain. "Fish on dinner plates around the world are stolenfrom someone else's ocean, denying them food and income. It is a hiddencrime that governments have the power to stop now."

The impacton fish stocks is matched by the devastation of marine life throughpirate fishing. Reeling out lines sometimes 100 km long with tens ofthousands of baited hooks, the pirates also snare turtles, sharks andseabirds. Millions are thrown overboard dead or dying as unwantedbycatch every year.

The Esperanza sails to the Atlantic justdays before the ministerial level High Seas Task Force (2) meets toannounce how it plans to further discuss the problem of pirate fishing.

"Five years ago governments agreed an International Plan of Action onpirate fishing - what's left to discuss?" said Helene Bours of theEnvironmental Justice Foundation. "Governments need to stop talking andstart acting. Closing ports, markets and prosecuting companies will ridthe oceans of pirate fishermen - it is simply a matter of politicalwill, not further debate."

Other contacts: On Board the MY Esperanza:Sebastian Losada, Greenpeace SpainHelene Bours, Environmental Justice FoundationSara Holden: Greenpeace International CommunicationsAll on: + 31 20 718 2703Also available in Cape Town:Sarah Duthie: + 44 771 770 4595

VVPR info: For visuals please contact: Maarten van Rouveroy (M) +31 646 197 322 for footage and Franca Michienzi for stills (M) +31(0) 6 53819255

Notes: (1) Pirate fishing is Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing.(2) The OECD High Seas Task Force, which is made up by fisheries ministers from Australia, Canada, Chile, Namibia, New Zealand and the UK, will meet in Paris on March 2nd & 3rdThe drive to make piracy history is the second leg of a 14-month global expedition "Defending Our Oceans", the most ambitious ship expedition ever undertaken by Greenpeace to expose the threats to the oceans and demand a global network of properly enforced marine reserves covering 40% of the worlds oceans. Already 45,000 people have become Ocean Defenders to echo the call. Greenpeace aims to gather a million Ocean Defenders by the end of theexpedition in February 2007.

Exp. contact date: 2006-02-27 00:00:00