Ocean Rebellion visited the UK offices of the satellite company Iridium to remind them of the destruction their satellites are causing in the Indian Ocean.

100 New Bridge Street, is the London office of the multinational company, Iridium. Their mission is to give everyone access to voice and data services anywhere on Earth. When they say everyone they mean anyone, no matter what they’re using their satellites for. This includes companies like Zunibal who sell ‘sustainable’ fishing satellite buoys. And this is where the story gets dark.

Telephone box opposite 100 New Bridge Street.

The satellite buoys Zunibal sells are used by the EU industrial fishing fleet, by vessels mainly from Spain and France, in fishing devices called FADs – FADs stands for FISH AGGREGATING DEVICE.

So what are FADs (or dFADs)?

Large parts of the Ocean are like vast deserts, places where the sun shines relentlessly on the water and there is no shade. Occasionally, in these vast deserts, there is some floating debris. It might be a raft of dead plant life washed out to sea, a fallen palm tree or even a dead whale shark. This debris drifts on the currents of the Ocean and beneath it sea life thrives – attracted by the shade and the small marine animals that take refuge there. And these marine animals attract predators, first small fish, then tuna, and with the tuna arrive sharks and dolphins. Whales and turtles also seek the shade while on migration. These little islands are an oasis in an ‘Ocean desert’. Little pools of thriving life.

But now a lot of these floating oases are traps. Traps set up by the EU industrial fishing fleet.

Fishing vessels rope together their own ‘floating debris’ using any rubbish they can find like old fishing nets, wooden pallets, plastic drums – anything that floats. And in this junk they place a satellite buoy. The whole lot is then dumped overboard to drift in the Ocean. And then they wait.

Poster, Farringdon Road.

The industrial fishing vessels don’t really wait – each vessel is in fact a massive fish processing plant and each vessel is floating out 100s of FAD islands of debris in the Ocean a week. What they really do is constantly patrol the Ocean using the satellite tracking to visit the FADs they floated in the past – waiting for when they’ve collected a community of marine life beneath them.

And when the FAD has collected a rich and diverse community of marine life a large net is dropped into the Ocean and carefully pulled deep under the FAD. The net is like a purse with a string (it’s called a purse seine net) and once it’s in place the top of the ‘purse’ is tightened so that everything beneath the FAD is caught in a massive bulging purse.

The ‘purse’ is taken onboard and all its dead and dying catch emptied out for sorting. The fishing vessel is only interested in tuna but everything else is slaughtered too, the turtles, sharks, dolphins, everything. Of course this isn’t ‘on purpose’ so the fishing industry refers to the slaughter as ‘bycatch’ – a coincidentally caught (and killed) unfortunate byproduct of a lazy industrial fishing process.

Captain Pugwash and his crew paste posters on 100 New Bridge Street.

The industrial tuna fishing industry is emptying the Indian Ocean of all life. Local fishers are struggling to fish any more. This is displacing coastal communities, forcing them to leave their homes – homes they have enjoyed for generations with each generation carefully fishing within sustainable limits.

Industrial fishing is not sustainable. The amount of fish being slaughtered is causing a collapse in the marine ecosystem. And this type of industrial fishing is for us. The FADs, the industrial scale ships and the careless waste, are being made just so we can eat tinned tuna. Tuna sold in UK supermarkets like Tesco and canned by the popular UK brands ‘John West’ and ‘Princes’.

Deliciously good? If it’s fished using FADs controlled by killer satellites it’s totally terrible. Photo from Farringdon Road.

In February we sent a letter to Iridium asking them to switch off their services to industrial fishing:


Iridium didn’t respond. We hope our poster reminders will give them a nudge.

To read more about how damaging FADs are visit our poster page.

We can’t let the EU fishing fleet continue to overfish the Indian Ocean, we demand that Iridium switch off their service NOW.

switch off the FAD satellite service today

When you next go to your local supermarket steer clear of FAD-caught canned tuna. Now you know it’s real price, dead turtles, dolphins, whales and sharks, displaced communities and real hunger, can you really afford to buy it?

And please sign this petition today and contact the CEO of Iridium on X (formerly Twitter), Matt Desch: @IridiumBoss. Let Matt know why Iridium must end its relationship with harmful industrial tuna fisheries today. He’ll be pleased to hear from you, he claims to care about our planet – now he can show us how much he cares.

Photos by: S. Staines

The fate of the Ocean depends on us all.
Our interventions depend on your support.

Related articles

Related topics