Massimo Cappitta is a thug.

by John Hocevar

June 24, 2009

While we were in Malta, Greenpeace activists were violently attacked when attempting to board two tuna vessels for inspection. Massimo Cappitta (more on him in a minute) was filmed punching Emma repeatedly in the face. Messages of support have been flooding in, with people offering well-wishes for Emma and also encouragement to keep up the fight.

Some, however, have questioned our methods. Why would we board a vessel without permission? A writer with Intrafish, a seafood trade outlet, urged readers not to be too quick to blame the fishermen. Others took the "two wrongs don’t make a right" view, saying that trespassing was unjustified. In fact, this willingness to force the issue, to not take no for an answer, and, when necessary, to peacefully break the law, is part of what has made Greenpeace so effective over the years.

Time and time again, nonviolent direct action has played an important role in protecting the environment – and changing the world. From the Boston Tea Party to Gandhi’s civil disobedience campaign, from the civil rights movement to Poland’s Solidarity movement, peaceful resistance has often been what’s won the day. We boarded these vessels because illegal fishing is a serious threat to the survival of bluefin tuna.

The vessels may be privately owned, but the tuna are a public resource. Greenpeace has been instrumental in gathering information on illegal activity in the fishery for the last several years, sharing evidence with governments, which have then acted on our documentation. Further complicating the situation is the fact that the Maltese fisheries authorities are among the most corrupt in the world, so enforcement of the laws left in official hands is unlikely to happen at all. Massimo Cappitta is a Director of Mare Blue Tuna Farm, a business venture with bluefin tycoon Fuentes.

Here is his company’s view on the environment, in their own words:

I guess Cappitta prefers to speak with his fists.

It doesn’t make the newspapers very often, but a large portion of Greenpeace’s work involves providing technical reports and testimony at policy meetings, lobbying, grassroots organizing, scientific research, and collaboration with businesses. Sometimes, though, quiet diplomacy is not enough, and unsustainable or illegal activities must be confronted and exposed. Action of this nature often carries with it a certain amount of risk, as we saw this week.

Unfortunately for those who put their own greed above the health of our planet, that is a risk we are prepared to take.

For the Oceans,

John Hocevar and the crew aboard the Rainbow Warrior

John Hocevar

By John Hocevar

An accomplished campaigner, explorer, and marine biologist, John has helped win several major victories for marine conservation since becoming the director of Greenpeace's oceans campaign in 2004.

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