Greenpeace Arctic Sunrise Ship Crew Saves Humpback Whale Entangled in Fishing Gear
October 30, 2023
On October 21, the crew of the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise rescued a humpback whale entangled in fishing gear. The rescue emphasizes the precarious situation that marine mammals face as entanglement with fishing gear claims the lives of over 300,000 dolphins and whales every year, making it the leading cause of mortality for these majestic animals. Ship strikes, the second-greatest cause of death, and plastic pollution further exacerbate this crisis.
© Paul Hilton / Greenpeace
WASHINGTON, DC (October 30, 2023) – On October 21, the crew of the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise rescued a humpback whale entangled in fishing gear. The rescue emphasizes the precarious situation that marine mammals face as entanglement with fishing gear claims the lives of over 300,000 dolphins and whales every year, making it the leading cause of mortality for these majestic animals. Ship strikes, the second-greatest cause of death, and plastic pollution further exacerbate this crisis.
The humpback whale was ensnared in gear, which originated from a Dungeness crab fishing vessel registered in Oregon. The fishery has been implicated in whale deaths for quite a while and was the subject of a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity.
While the preferred course of action in these cases is to alert relevant authorities, the remote location and the imminent threat to the whale’s life compelled the crew of the Arctic Sunrise to act swiftly. Greenpeace International has duly reported this incident to the relevant authorities through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Ignacio Soaje, Chief Mate on Arctic Sunrise, said: “What we managed to do from the Arctic Sunrise could be described as one of the rare occasions in which human intervention is for the good. The staggering toll of hundreds of thousands of whales and dolphins lost to the fishing industry each year is simply unacceptable. While we managed to save one whale, close to a thousand others likely fell victim to entanglements and drownings on the very same day. This cannot be tolerated as just the cost of doing business.”
Soaje continued: “All life on earth relies on a healthy ocean, and whales are a cornerstone species for maintaining those critical ecosystems. This incident should serve as a stark reminder of the dire need for international action to safeguard our oceans and the creatures that inhabit them.”
Ocean sanctuaries play a pivotal role in protecting marine life, including whales, from entanglements. They restrict fishing activities on critical feeding and calving grounds. The recently agreed on Global Ocean Treaty presents an unprecedented opportunity to create these sanctuaries on the high seas, ensuring the protection of whales and all other marine species. The Greenpeace network urges governments worldwide to take swift action by signing the Global Ocean Treaty, creating marine sanctuaries, and actively working to achieve the target of protecting 30% of our oceans by 2030.
Photos and videos, including Spanish-language interviews, are available here.
Contact: Tanya Brooks, Greenpeace USA Senior Communications Specialist, P: 703-342-9226, E: [email protected]
Greenpeace USA is part of a global network of independent campaigning organizations that use peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future. Greenpeace USA is committed to transforming the country’s unjust social, environmental, and economic systems from the ground up to address the climate crisis, advance racial justice, and build an economy that puts people first. Learn more at www.greenpeace.org/usa.