Going Gangnam, Greenpeace Style

by Michael Baillie

December 19, 2012

As Gangnam fever swept the globe, not even the Rainbow Warrior was able to escape the madness. So while sailing out in the Indian Ocean, working to document and expose unsustainable and illegal fishing practices, the crew decided to create a spoof version of the video.

We’d been sailing off the coast of Mozambique, helping fisheries inspectors monitor the country’s waters for illegal fishing. Having been out at sea for three weeks, it was a while before we found out about “gangnam style”. Eventually though, we heard how wildly popular it was on YouTube, and a Korean volunteer onboard to explained the lyrics to us.

We decided that making our own version would be a great way to reach new people and spread our oceans campaign message.

21 September 2012 Blue shark being pulled on board a long line fishing ship. Paul Hilton / Greenpeace

Why more people need to care about the oceans

The sad reality is that the world’s oceans are in urgent need of attention, and we need to get people talking more about the biggest problem: how overfishing is crippling ocean ecosystems. Tuna catches in the Indian Ocean peaked back in 2006, and shark finning is happening at a very unsustainable rate.

Unless fisheries management is improved, and illegal fishing is brought under control, many species of tuna and sharks will continue to decline – leaving some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world out of livelihoods and food.

The idea, then, was to ride the wave of Gangnam style, using it to spread the message about the need to defend our oceans. What followed was a series of hilarious after-hours group dance sessions below deck.

Amateur hour, after work

By day we’d be looking for and inspecting fishing vessels, running the campaign and documenting what we found but after dinner and on Sundays, the Rainbow Warrior was completely transformed.

Picture a group of twenty severely uncoordinated cooks, deck-hands, engineers, and volunteers doing their best to dance in a vaguely coordinated fashion — on a ship that just wouldn’t stop rocking! We’d put on the video, line up in rows, and then just do our best to keep up, always struggling to “hear the beat” and keep count.

By the end of our filming almost every crewmember had got involved in one scene or another. Our version of Gangnam is without doubt the most multinational and multicultural version made to date.

Getting the scenes right took a lot of practice, but even after doing the same shot over and over, we all agreed that if ‘Gangnam’ is what it would take to get our message out to more people, then it was well worth the effort!

19 December 2012 Illegal fishing boat inside the Chagos marine reserve. Paul Hilton / Greenpeace

How you can help

As a seafood consumer you can make a difference to the well being of our oceans by making specific choices about what seafood you consume and how it has been caught.

Avoid buying the most over fished species with this guide.

Read more about our work in the Indian Ocean.

Sign up with your local Greenpeace office for more ways to help.

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