MONTEVIDEO – Greenpeace activists met with fishermen in the Uruguayan port of Montevideo in a campaign against a lack of regulation on the world’s oceans.
The activists came ashore on several boats and kayaks from the Esperanza ship, the largest vessel in the international organization’s fleet displaying a 25 meter-long banner with the message “Ocean Looters.”
The port regularly hosts vessels that fish in unregulated waters beyond Argentina’s exclusive economic zone, including some reportedly with a history of illegal fishing, according to Greenpeace.
“We came to meet face to face with the destructive fleets of the South Atlantic,” Luisina Vueso, from the Protect the Oceans campaign, told Efe.
“We came to this place because it is the main operational port of the fleets that operate in the South Atlantic that come from the other side of the world taking advantage of the lack of protection that exists today in international waters to fish without any control.”
She added that there is a lack of control, regulation and protection on the high seas of fleets that come from different parts of the world, mainly South Korea, Taiwan and China.
“Today only 1% of the high seas of international waters are protected and that is why we are campaigning because the ocean is the largest ecosystem in the world, international waters cover 43% of the planet’s surface,” she explained.
Greenpeace’s global strategy, which sees activists travel to different strategic points across the planet, seeks to generate public pressure for governments to sign a UN treaty to protect the oceans and create marine sanctuaries.
International fisheries carry out practices in the Atlantic because there is a “legal vacuum” that allows them to carry out illegal fishing not declared and unregulated.
“They turn off their radars and enter exclusive economic zones where they cannot fish, they do not declare their capture, they use transshipments in the middle of the high seas to transfer their capture and continue fishing,” Vueso said.
The boats use destructive techniques that dredge the seabed like bulldozers for many kilometers to catch the fish they need (squid, hake and black hake) but also ensnare sharks, turtles and dolphins, she added.
The Greenpeace campaign began in April and crossed a large part of the globe, raising awareness and support from the public and a worldwide movement to protect the oceans.
The central objective is to convince countries to sign in favor of underwater sanctuaries at the UN meeting in New York in March 2020.
“By 2030 we want 30% of the oceans to be protected and that will only be possible through the signing of this treaty,” Vueso said.
“I think our message was very clear, it is exactly what we wanted to do, that it is very clear who are the looters of the ocean and I think that thanks to this demonstration it was seen,” she concluded.