Russian Fishing Agency accuses Greenpeace of pulling strings in Senegal to stall trawler seizure Published time: January 08, 2014 13:40
[.. “Why are they taking upon themselves what is a government's responsibility to protect their waters and biological resources?” said Saveliev.]
Greenpeace is pulling strings in Senegal to stall Russia's effort to release a fishing ship with over 80 members of crew on board. The vessel was impounded last week on allegations of illegal fishing, says the Russian fishery regulator.
The accusations come after Senegal authorities revoked their earlier permission to let the captain of the ship, who had been injured during her capture, be treated in a Dakar hospital and failed to appear at a scheduled round of negotiations.
“Based on these statements from Greenpeace, one may conclude that the army of Senegal is acting upon these claims,” Aleksandr Savelyev, head of the Rosrybolobstvo's press service, said explaining the agency's allegations against the environmental organization to RT. He added that Greenpeace words“evoke bewilderment, even indignation”.
The Russian regulator reiterated accusations against Greenpeace, which it blamed for the impounding of the Oleg Naydenov trawler. The agency cited a Tuesday statement by Greenpeace Africa, which praised the Senegal government for detaining the Russian ship.
“Following the detention of the Russian-flagged trawler the “Oleg Naydenov” by the Senegalese national navy on charges of illegal fishing, Greenpeace reiterates its support to the government of Senegal for the enforcement of fisheries legislation and calls on the President and his government to remain firm on its commitment to put an end to illegal activities by such vessels,” the statement read.
A Russian trawler "Oleg Naпdenov" ,is moored under guard in Dakar on January 5, 2014. (AFP Photo / Seyllou)
Greenpeace says the ship has a bad reputation and had been caught red-handed fishing illegally in Senegal's waters in February 2012. The organization says that Oleg Naydenov, along with numerous ships from many nations, is involved in overfishing off the West African coast, which is facilitated by corruption in the local governments. “Why are they taking upon themselves what is a government's responsibility to protect their waters and biological resources?” said Saveliev.
Last week's detention however leaves many questions unanswered. The Russian ship was apparently raided by Senegalese military in the waters of neighboring Guinea-Bissau before being escorted to Dakar port. There were some scuffles between the armed soldiers and sailors on the boat, in which two Russian crewmembers, the captain of the ship and a female cafeteria worker, sustained injuries. In the wake of the detention the irritated Rosrybolobstvo said the captain would be taken to a local doctor for examination and the subsequent report would be used as evidence in the conflict. This, however, hasn’t happened - the entire crew remains arrested on the ship. Meanwhile, according to Rosrybolovstvo no drinking water supplies have been delivered to the ship, as Senegalese permission is needed in order to approach the vessel.
A Senegalese inspection of the ship failed to find any violation on the part of the fishermen. The country has so far presented no evidence of any wrongdoing by Oleg Naydenov.
The detention however sparked a diplomatic crisis between Senegal and Guinea-Bissau. The latter severed diplomatic relations with its southern neighbor and arrested several Senegalese fishing boats. Guinea-Bissau wants to put leverage on Senegal to secure release of 23 of its citizens, who are among the Russian ship's crew and remain under arrest.
The Russian foreign ministry says Dakar is avoiding contact with Moscow, which does not help in resolving the issue. “We are continuing our effort to establish a contact with Senegal on a necessary level to settle the issue and finally get an official explanation on the circumstances of the detention, including the handling of the crewmembers and the ship,” Konstantin Dolgov, human rights ombudsman in the ministry said on Wednesday.
In the absence of any official statements from Senegal's government on the unfolding conflict, the position of Greenpeace, which appears to be jumping to conclusions and presuming the guilt of the Russian fishermen, seems dubious. The organization recently had a major falling-out with Russia, when it sent its ship to stage an unsanctioned protest at a Russian oilrig in the Arctic. The ship and 30 activists on board were arrested and prosecuted under hooliganism charges. Greenpeace branded Russia's actions as persecution of peaceful activists and launched a campaign to condemn the arrests. The activists spent several months in police custody, before a mass amnesty law forced the Russian prosecution to drop the charges.
Today, Greenpeace is runninging active campaigns against both their old foes — the nuclear, logging, and whaling industries — and several newer, even more preposterous targets including the fishing industry, GE agriculture, and companies producing “toxic” consumer electronics.
Most recently, Greenpeace USA has raised a false alarm regarding the growth of the biotech fisheries industry. A handful of innovative businesses have learned how to genetically improve certain salmon species to make them grow faster, and Greenpeace will have none of it. The group is doing all it can to frighten consumers of this new product, and is working behind the scenes to have it banned before it can even reach the marketplace.
To this day, Greenpeace remains bent on destroying aquaculture industry even as they continue to raise alarm about the status of wild fish stocks. Farmed fish, such as salmon, actually take pressure off wild stocks, while providing consumers with an affordable source of heart-healthy, omega-3-rich protein. But Greenpeace wants to make farmed salmon the enemy of wild salmon. To this end, the group concocted an alarmist campaign focusing on the threat of sea lice. Unfortunately for Greenpeace, a direct causal link between sea lice and declining wild salmon populations has yet to be proven, and in the meantime the aquaculture industry is hard at work finding new, better, and even more sustainable methods to ensure that their product can continue to help both human and wild fish populations.
But along with targeting aquaculture, Greenpeace wants to make it all but impossible to harvest wild populations of any fish species regardless of sustainability. In 2008, Greenpeace released its seafood sustainability “report” designed to pressure American supermarkets into removing almost half of all currently available seafood. On page one of the alarmist diatribe, Greenpeace claims that world’s commercial fisheries could collapse within the next 40 years and that “90 percent of stocks of large predatory fish have already been lost.” Unfortunately for the alarmists at Greenpeace, these numbers are based on a long-since debunked study that has been described by a number of independent researchers (and even the original author of the study!) as “flawed and full of errors.”
In response to this report, The National Fisheries Institute decided to offer their own, slightly more in-depth look at some of the fish that made Greenpeace’s “Red List”:
HokiGreenpeace says hoki is one of the highest priority species for removal from stores. What they don’t’ say is that the New Zealand government recently reduced the catch levels for hoki, based on scientific estimates of its status. This action is the kind of scientifically based decision-making that good fishery managers use — when stocks go up, more fishing can be allowed and when stocks go down, good government managers reduce the fishing. Marine Stewardship Council principles recognize these fluctuations in stock and reward fisheries that have such good management systems in place. Greenpeace’s failure to recognize this important aspect of sustainable management exposes a real weakness in their own sustainability efforts.
Alaska PollockApparently Greenpeace is truly in the dark about this fishery. Alaska Pollock is considered by many NGOs, government fisheries experts, and industry insiders to be a model of fisheries management and meets all of the requirements of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries developed by the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The Alaska Pollock stock is plentiful and the fishery is sustainably managed. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) puts it this way, “Alaska pollock population levels are high, and no overfishing is occurring.” It’s pretty straightforward.
Tropical ShrimpShrimp is America’s favorite seafood. About 92% of the shrimp consumed by Americans is imported, and of that about 86% is farmed. About one third (32% and growing) of the imported, farmed shrimp comes from processing plants that are certified by the Aquaculture Certification Council (ACC) for implementation of their Best Aquaculture Practices. The ACC is currently concentrating on efforts to increase the number of farms participating in the certification program.
Because retailers have no interest in seeing fish that make them a profit suddenly become unavailable, many grocery chains have recently changed their stance on carrying unsustainably sourced seafood. Of course, Greenpeace is more than willing to take creditfor this development, despite the fact that several supermarkets have specifically noted that these decisions were made as a result of advice given not by Greenpeace, but by the New England Aquarium and other, less fanatical organizations.
Indeed, the news regarding sustainable fishing practices is much less dire than Greenpeace would have you believe. While Greenpeace spends its time digging up old, debunked studies to compile into alarmist reports designed to elicit an “emotional response” about the grim state of our fisheries, independent government scientists have gone about their work assessing the actual sustainability of American fish stocks. And, wouldn’t you know it, the headline for NOAA’s 2008 Status of U.S. Fisheries Report is “Seven Stocks Removed from Overfishing List, None Added.” Good news, right? Compare that to the subhead for Greenpeace’s “Carting Away the Oceans” report: “Grocery Stores are Emptying the Seas.”
Incidentally, according to the NOAA report, among those fish stocks not listed as subject to overfishing are the Central Western Pacific yellowfin tuna, Atlantic bigeye tuna, and both the north and south stocks of monkfish — all species featured on Greenpeace’s Red List. For the most up-to-date statistics on the real status of which species of fish are subject to overfishing, click here.
Not content to limit their propaganda to the fishing business as a whole, Greenpeace has recently singled out the tuna industry for an even more targeted and intensive attack. In keeping with its usual modus operandi, Greenpeace launched a national campaign that vilifies tuna companies through grossly hyperbolic videos, accompanied by urgent fundraising letters.
Ignoring the fact that canned tuna is one of the best and least expensive sources of such essential nutrients as protein, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids, Greenpeace appears determined to coerce retailers into clearing their shelves of this nutritious food.
“Rather than working on real sustainability initiatives, Greenpeace continues to try to bully U.S. tuna canners,” said Gavin Gibbons, a spokesman for the National Fisheries Institute, an industry-backed non-profit group. “Its efforts consist of childish stunts as opposed to real science and meaningful collaboration. Greenpeace marginalizes itself in the conversation about tuna sustainability by choosing to be a side show.”
While Greenpeace strives to shock and awe the public into donating to their misguided crusade, other high-powered conservation groups, such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), have decided to abandon stunts in favor of working hand-in-hand with the tuna companies through the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). Founded in 2008 by tuna industry leaders, marine scientists, and the WWF, the ISSSF brings together companies, governments, scientists and conservation activists to identify best practices and ecologically sustainable solutions to ensure the long term health of all tuna stocks, while protecting oceans and minimizing the impact of fishing on other marine animals.
Greenpeace argues that the siren song of the almighty dollar is the only thing driving the tuna industry’s decisions regarding its fishing practices. But the truth is that if tuna disappear from the oceans, the tuna industry would cease to exist. If tuna companies are as greedy as Greenpeace would have us believe, it’s hard to imagine they would be gunning for a future that robbed them of the single factor ensuring their continued economic success.
Thankfully, like many of the other fish species Greenpeace has red-listed, evidence shows that the species used in canned tuna are nearly as plentiful as they were 60 years ago. Ray Hilborn, professor of aquatic and fishery sciences at the University of Washington and former member of the President’s Commission on Ocean Policy, notes that “On average, the tuna and billfish of the world are fished at levels that will produce maximum sustainable yield and are at the abundance that will produce maximum sustainable yield. The U.S. fisheries are doing extremely well.”
And while Greenpeace continues to raise money by promoting an apocalyptic vision of a world with oceans devoid of all living things, Hilborn says that this message of fear is far from the truth.
The oceans are not picked clean at all. There are lots of fish in the ocean, but not as many as there would be if we did not rely on the oceans for food. If you want to feed the world from capture fisheries you have to accept that the oceans will be different. … But if you compare wild capture fishing to producing food in other ways, fishing looks pretty good. In fact, it looks much better. No matter how you measure environmental impact: carbon footprints, amount of water used, (you can catch fish in the ocean without fresh water!), antibiotics, biodiversity loss fishing has a lower environmental footprint than producing animal protein on the land. In order to produce the crops to feed chicken, pigs or cows you rip out native ecosystems and replace them with exotic species. Fishing maintains ecosystems that are largely natural — different but much less different than agricultural systems.
If Greenpeace succeeds in getting affordable, nutritious tuna removed from all supermarket shelves, consumers will be forced to turn to other inexpensive sources of protein and fat, namely beef, chicken, and pork. Surely Greenpeace knows the environmental costs involved in raising more livestock — lost habitat, increased water consumption, and increased use of pesticides, fertilizer, and antibiotics — and yet they seem to prefer this option to a future of sustainable fishing.