Archives for posts with tag: Greenpeace


After four years of campaigning (including bearing witness and taking direct action by Greenpeace activists on the Rainbow Warrior against bottom trawling fishing vessels in the Tasman Sea) to bring an end to deep-sea bottom trawling, an international agreement has been made to protect just under 25 percent of the high seas from this incredibly destructive fishing method.

Representatives from countries around the world gathered in Chile to carve out a fisheries agreement for the South Pacific region. Following a resolution made by the UN in 2006, the countries at the meeting responded strongly with measures to stop destruction of deep water corals, seamounts and other sensitive habitats by vessels that  are bottom trawling in international waters.

From September 2007 bottom trawling vessels in the South Pacific will not be able to fish in areas that have or are even likely to have vulnerable marine ecosystems, unless they’ve completed an assessment to show they won’t do any damage.

The New Zealand fishing industry is responsible for 90 percent of bottom trawling in the region. New Zealand delegates told the meeting these measures would “severely constrain the ability of their fishing industry to continue bottom trawling on the high seas around New Zealand”  and suggested that it may even have the effect of putting an end to bottom trawling.

We’ll be watching to make sure that New Zealand – and all the member countries – put the agreement into action, and implement the measures that will protect the irreplaceable biodiversity of deep sea ecosystems.

Image: Crewman on the New Zealand bottom trawler dump a large piece of ‘Paragorgia’ coral dredged from the deep sea in their net.

78 Busan 4

Every day we have to make choices. For many, the choice is whether or not to do something to protect our environment.

For a few of us, there is no choice at all. We do what we have to do to tell the world that there are wrongs that need to be made right. Whereas for most, telling the world costs a few moments of their time, for select others, telling the world is at the cost of imprisonment.

The past few months have seen that select brave few risking their freedom as they were secured to mooring lines, clinging to the side of a glass building and hanging from a bridge high in the air. For some it was a gruelling 15 hours of climbing, for others, it was days spent on a bridge suspension cable hoping the people who needed to hear what they were saying were really listening.

For Greenpeace Germany, whose activists clung to the ropes of a cargo ship in early July in Hamburg, things went right. The ripple effect of what they did changed port policy, and sent the meat of the endangered fin whale back to where it came from. This season it would not end up in Japanese freezers and then into the dog food bowls of the rich.

For the six climbers in London who had the audacity and courage to scale the outside of the tallest building in Europe, it was 15 hours of literally hanging over the abyss by a thread. It was a muscle-burning, marathon climb, but they made it to the top, and for a few moments the world had to consider what they would do to save the arctic. Fortune smiled as they were perfunctorily detained, questioned and subsequently released.

While Greenpeace Germany activists were fighting to save the fin whale in Hamburg and the climbers were scaling the Shard, in South Korea four others —from the US, Indonesia, Taiwan, and South Korea — were suspended 130 metres in the air, high above Busan. They were there to warn the 3.4 million people living near the decrepit Kori nuclear reactor that they need to force a nuclear emergency plan out of their government. The cost of this three day ordeal was arrest, and a severe reaction by the prosecutor: Ten months for the South Korean activist and six months for activists from the USA, Taiwan and Indonesia.

Today, however, we may have seen the most rational turnaround of verdicts than what has recently come about in trials in the US and other places. After the anxiety of expected prison terms, the judge ordered the activists to pay a fine. She acknowledged that their action was to raise awareness about nuclear accident safety law. She saw it as a message for the government and the people to achieve a public good.

Last year Lucy Lawless, on her third day camped out on an oil rig, posted a video to her site on which she asked a simple question: “Is anybody listening? Does anybody care about this like we do?”

And that is the crux of it for any activist, whether they’re marching the streets in New York, hanging from a mooring in Hamburg, 300 metres in the air in London, or standing in a courtroom in South Korea. In the face of adversity, ridicule and imprisonment the only real fear is that they will not be heard.

When we choose to act individually or collectively to carry on the mission perpetuated and set forth by Greenpeace activists, we choose to let them know that they are not alone. We choose to hear them, and echo their call.

Arin de Hoog is a Media Relations Specialist for Greenpeace International.

68 kingsnorth climber

Editorial – The Observer, Sunday 31 May 2009

Sometimes, the most effective protest crosses the boundaries of law. That does not mean activists should be free to commit crimes just to draw attention to good causes. Rather, there are times when direct action can actually change the law, nudging it into closer alignment with what the protester sees as natural justice.

One such case is that of the Kingsnorth Six, who in 2007 broke into a coal-fired power station, shut it down and defaced it. They argued in court that the damage they caused prevented a worse harm: destruction of the climate.

The story is told in our Review section today and in a film collaboration between documentary-maker Nick Broomfield and Greenpeace, hosted by the Observer online. It shows the potential for extraordinary courage shown by ordinary people when motivated by ideals.

It so happens that the ideal of saving the world from climate change is a noble one. But the theoretical argument that direct action is justified in the name of a greater good leads on to morally complex terrain. It can be deployed by all sorts of zealots who think their cause trumps the law.

That is why the key to the Kingsnorth Six story is their trial by jury. Expert testimony and scientific evidence were presented to support the claim that closure of the power station, even for the few hours that the protest lasted, averted terrible harm to the climate. Such is the toxicity of coal smoke. The court concurred; the activists were acquitted.

That outcome would under any circumstances have made it a landmark case. But given the profound moral implications of the Kingsnorth Six defence – that burning filthy fossil fuels amounts to a crime against the planet – it is especially significant, and gratifying, that a jury of their peers agreed.


1 skyscraper. 6 women. No permission. What will you do to save the Arctic?

Victo, Ali, Sabine, Sandra, Liesbeth & Wiola

Why are we doing this?

We’re attempting to scale the Shard to send a message to the headquarters of oil giant Shell.

In the last 30 years we’ve lost 80% of the Arctic sea ice.

The white ice cap at the top of the world has shrunk so much that scientists say the North Pole could be ice free any time in the next few decades. The last time there was no Arctic sea ice was 800,000 years ago.

The survival of polar bears and other iconic species is threatened by that melt. But the Arctic is more than just a home for polar bears. The vast white ice sheets reflects the sun’s rays back into space, cooling the entire Earth.

As the ice disappears our global weather becomes more unpredictable. Farming gets harder. Hunger gets worse.

The Arctic is a vital part of our home and that’s why it matters to everyone on our shared planet to protect it.

Shell and other oil companies want to use the melting Arctic to drill for oil. They want to drill in the places they can only now reach because the ice is melting. And burning that oil only accelerates the melt.

It’s a vicious circle that only makes sense if you’re an oil executive thinking about your company’s short-term profits. Or you’re a politician hoping some quick money will help you win the next election.

But we are not those people. We have a responsibility to think bigger than that.

What we decide today about the Arctic and climate change will affect humanity long after these oil company logos and opportunistic politicians are forgotten.

That’s why we’re up here, scaling this skyscraper modelled on a shard of ice. As we look down, we’re in the midpoint of Shell’s three London offices. From here we want to send them a message they won’t forget.

If we make it to the top, we hope to install a giant piece of art that will show the true beauty of the Arctic and why we’re telling Shell to keep its rusty rigs away. We can see them, so we know they can see us.