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Greenpeace targets Korean DongWon tuna catcher

Pacific Ocean, 3 June 2008


Greenpeace protested beside the DongWon tuna purse seiner Juventus. The side of the boat was painted with the message 'Pirate?' in both Korean and English to highlight the shady history of parent company DongWon. Activists also held a banner reading 'Marine reserves now!' to protect tuna from overfishing in the pocket of international waters between Pacific island countries – the Pacific Commons - to the east of the Solomon Islands.

Greenpeace activists paint "Pirate?" on the back of Taiwanese longlinger in Pacific international waters. May 3rd 2008
photo: greenpeace, Paul Hilton

The Captain of the Juventus told Greenpeace activists he had heard about the recent agreement signed in Palau that will see Pacific island countries close fishing access to this area of international waters. Vast areas of the Pacific Commons will be closed to fishing starting from the 15th of June. The Juventus was peacefully escorted into the waters of Solomon Islands where the vessel had a license to fish after the Captain agreed that he will not engage in any future fishing activities in the Pacific Commons.

"We want commitment from DongWon, the Korean Government and all other countries fishing in the area that the fishing closure will be respected", said Lagi Toribau oceans campaigner on board Greenpeace ship Esperanza.

Scientists have been warning since 2001 that bigeye and yellowfin tuna are suffering from overfishing. Countries fishing in the area have blatantly ignored the warnings and increased the number of tuna fishing ships – this includes pirate fishing. In addition, last year Taiwan, Japan, Korea and mainland China all blocked moves for sustainable fishing by Pacific island countries in the region.

"We need to ensure tuna for the future and we want the Korean Government to support the designation of these areas as marine reserves at the West and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. We also need to see Korea urgently agreeing to reduce their tuna fishing vessels in the Pacific", said Jung Choi of Korean environmental group KFEM on board the Esperanza.

Korea's DongWon Industries Co. Ltd, a significant global player in the tuna industry. In 2006, Greenpeace together with Kiribati fisheries inspectors boarded another DongWon owned vessel, DongWon 117, which fled Kiribati waters after Greenpeace discovered discrepancies in its documentation and reporting.

DongWon tuna vessel Olympus was the first boat Greenpeace took protest action against during the current expedition to highlight the overfishing of tuna in the Pacific. Greenpeace activists also closed down the DongWon stall at the world's largest seafood fair in Brussels during April due to their contribution to the overfishing of the world's tuna stocks.

The Greenpeace ship Esperanza has been in the region for the last eight weeks highlighting the overfishing of tuna. During the time at sea, the activists have taken direct non-violent action against fishing fleets from Taiwan, Korea, the US, the Philippines and Spain.


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