Greenpeace intercepts a tanker in the English Channel carrying fish oil

Greenpeace intercepted the tanker in the English Channel (photos Kristian Buus / Greenpeace)

Posted on October 7, 2021 at 7:21 p.m. by

The Maritime Executive

Activists from the Greenpeace ship rainbow warrior intercepted a tanker carrying fish oil from West Africa as the ship entered the English Channel earlier today. The ship was delayed but was able to continue without incident as protesters sought to draw attention to what they said was an alarming growth in West African fishmeal and fish oil exports. Greenpeace is demanding action from importers and regional governments to end this trade.

“This is big business taking life out of our oceans and robbing our fishing communities of their livelihoods. The science is clear, it will soon be too late. They need to stop now,” said Dr Aliou Ba, Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace Africa.

According to Greenpeace, each year more than half a million tonnes of fish are caught in West African waters to be processed into fishmeal and fish oil to feed farmed fish, livestock and pets in Asia and Europe. In 2020, in Mauritania alone, fishmeal exports increased by 16%, with fish oil exports to the European Union increasing by 6% in the same year. The environmental group says that this amount of fish would be enough to feed 33 million people in a region subject to significant food insecurity. They also blame over-farming in the area for driving up fish prices.

by Greenpeace rainbow warrior approached the tanker registered in Norway sun key in the English Channel off the northern tip of Normandy. The 4,700 dwt vessel departed from Agadir, Morocco, and arrived overnight at the French port of Fécamp.

the rainbow warrior, well known for his campaigns against whaling and sealing, launched his inflatable, fast interceptor boat which sailed alongside the tanker. Activists held up a banner that read: “Cargill, Mowi, Skretting, BioMar: Was this fish oil stolen for you? while an audio system played recordings in which West African fishermen and fish processors who were unable to join the action due to the pandemic vowed to continue their fight against the importers of fishmeal and fish oil. The processors accused the four companies, which Greenpeace says account for 70% of the trade, of stealing fish from their community and threatening their jobs and a vital source of food.

Greenpeace is calling on fishmeal and fish oil importers to stop sourcing fishmeal and fish oil from West Africa. Furthermore, the campaigners are calling on the governments of the region to phase out the use of fish fit for human consumption in the production of aquatic food and animal feed and to establish effective regional management of small pelagic resources. Greenpeace is also campaigning for a global ocean treaty to create vast ocean sanctuaries, free from harmful human activities, in more than a third of the world’s oceans by 2030.