Taking 400,000 people on a trip to the Indian Ocean

Taking 400,000 people on a trip to the Indian Ocean

It was a sunny afternoon in April when the Esperanza left port in Madagascar six weeks ago. Its mission: to hunt down Thai Union’s destructive fishing operations in the Indian Ocean.

Perhaps because of everything achieved since then, it seems longer ago. In these past weeks we’ve hauled dozens of so-called fish aggregating devices (FADs) from the ocean – almost 100 buoys and many hundreds of metres of rope, nets and fishing lines.

We’ve paddled alongside local Malagasy fishermen and witnessed first-hand how they struggle to make a living as fish stocks come under increasing threat from industrial operations.

We’ve stopped supply vessels deploying harmful fishing gear and we’ve confronted, then chased, a reckless fishing vessel, which was evidently gathering fish with highly controversial lights, from its moorings. 

We blacked out those lamps to call “lights out” on this destructive practice. The very next day it was announced that the sort of lights the Explorer II was using to attract fish in the Indian Ocean would now be banned.

Activists at sea black out controversial vessel's lights in second day of action pursuit. Activists on board the Greenpeace ship Esperanza use water-based black paint to disable lamps on the Explorer II, a vessel thought to habitually use some 80 high-powered lights to aggregate fish in a potential breach of marine regulations.  © Will Rose / Greenpeace

While we’ve been keeping up the pressure at sea, hundreds of thousands more people on land around the world are backing the campaign in any way they can. Activists in New Zealand shut down a Whiskas factory, that buys tuna from Thai Union. In France, still more activists shut down a Petit Navire packing factory.

Right before a major seafood industry conference in Thailand (the “Bangkok Tuna Forum”), delegates at the event saw the words ‘Thai Union: lead the change, stop ocean destruction’ laser-projected in giant lights.

25 Greenpeace activists are blocking a Petit Navire factory part of Thai Union group, to denounce the fishing methods of world’s biggest canned tuna producer. Greenpeace activists chained themselves to giant tuna cans and are blocking access to the delivery trucks. Climbers repainted the facade of the building with fake blood, bycatch and the message « Stop destruction ». This factory produces products for Petit Navire, John West and Mareblu distributed in France, British and Italian markets. Greenpeace is asking Petit Navire and Thai Union to stop using destructive fishing methods that destroy are destrying the oceans.  © Pierre Baelen / Greenpeace

In France and the UK, investigative teams have matched barcodes on tuna tins to FADs we’ve retrieved and deactivated in the Indian Ocean — and in a coordinated event, crowds cleared Thai Union tuna tins off the shelves in 135 supermarkets in France, the UK, the USA, Canada, and Italy.

In doing all this, we’ve made it crystal clear that if tuna companies like Thai Union don’t clean up their act, we’ll make business impossible for them – and we’ve done that all along their supply chain; from point of catch to point of sale. In the USA, Walmart can expect further action very soon. In the UK, Sainsburys is under pressure to take action on John West – as other retailers like Tesco and Waitrose already have.

These victories have not come easy, and there is much more to do. But if you’ve sailed with us – on deck, on land or in spirit – thank you. You have made a huge difference to the lives of fishing communities, countless sea creatures and helped the push towards cleaner and more just ocean industries.

The collateral damage of destructive fishing is #NotJustTuna. This movement is not just the Esperanza. This movement is you – and the next wave is coming harder than ever.

On behalf of the whole Esperanza and Not Just Tuna team,

Thank you.

Crew of the Esperanza on the #notjusttuna Indian Ocean tour  © Will Rose / Greenpeace

Tom Lowe is a Multimedia Editor for the Communications Hub at Greenpeace International, aboard the Esperanza.

Source: Green peace

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