With flags fluttering and the UN Ocean Conference Center in the background performers from Ocean Rebellion, wearing ‘Fish Heads’ and pinstripe suits, demanded UN delegates and world ‘leaders’ use their power and influence to end the war on fish and govern the Ocean for the benefit of ALL life.
In the background fishers held banners. Banners highlighting the fate of the Ocean if the UN fails to convene a body to protect it and the marine life who call it home. So far a lack of governance by the UN has placed Ocean life at the edge of survival and at the mercy of greedy corporations and nations. The Ocean generates half the oxygen we breathe and squirrels away huge quantities of ‘Blue Carbon’ which otherwise goes into overheating the atmosphere and acidifying the Ocean, leading to climate, nature and social collapse. Because there is no global UN body protecting Ocean biodiversity, the overfished Ocean is rapidly dying – AS THE SEA DIES WE DIE.
The Ocean Rebellion ‘Fish Heads’ represent the blank face of fishing, policy making and treaty failures due to vested interests. From the front, they appear slick, smooth and businesslike. When they turn around you see the nature of their masks, ‘Fish Heads’ with their bodies brutally torn away. They leak blood on the ground, they crush fish in their hands and underfoot. They are the real nature of industrial fishing and the regulatory systems that ignore the science and, captured by industry, allow overfishing to continue year after year. The ‘Fish Heads' only interest is the money they make from waging a war on fish, they commit ecocide through greed. They will take anything they want from the Ocean while greenwashing their bloody business. And when it comes to signing a treaty they will nod appreciatively, make all the right noises, tell everyone ‘it’s a serious concern’ but will always manoeuvre behind the scenes to make sure the treaty remains unsigned.
The dead fish represent what is taken out of the sea above the natural capacity of the Ocean to recover, and the estimated 406,000 tonnes of marine life that is killed incidentally every year – and thrown dead overboard, unwanted marine life like Dolphins, Sharks and Turtles. Such waste of life and suffering is the outcome of years of reckless politics. These dead fish are also a sign of all the blue carbon industrial fishing releases, adding to global warming and pushing fragile communities to the edge of survival.
Since the 1950s the self-named ‘developed world’ has declared War on Fish. We now overfish the Ocean at such a rate that some seas are nearly empty. This Industrial Scale Fishing is placing small fisher communities at the edge of survival, destroying marine life and precious coastal areas, wrecking Marine Protected Areas, and breaking the delicate balance of the marine ecosystem. The War must end now by restricting fishing – we must reduce fishing by 80% before 2025 by banning industrial fisheries and restricting fishing to low-impact traditional techniques. By turning the tide on fish profiteering we can help coastal communities protect the Ocean they cherish and understand.
Ocean Rebellion demands:
The UN must form a new, transparent, and representative body to govern the Ocean for the benefit of ALL life. This new body must have the restoration and replenishment of the Ocean as its only measure of success. It should replace corporate power with people power. And it should represent the many forms of marine life who actually make the ocean a home.
Chris Armstrong says:
“The governance of the High Seas is an ecological disaster. Its founding principles were dreamt up in a time when we thought the ocean’s bounty was inexhaustible, and its ecosystems too robust to ever fail. We have now pushed that idea beyond breaking point. We urgently need a revolution in High Seas politics, with protection and participation replacing corporate pillage.”
Sophie Miller adds:
“The world must reduce fishing by 80% – talk about Marine Protected Areas and restricting fishing practice is getting us nowhere. Unless we have definitive aims we can’t protect the Ocean. Our 80% reduction puts an end to industrial fishing but recognises the value of low-impact fishing by local communities, communities which are disappearing because fish stocks are so low. An end to industrial fishing will place the fate of the Ocean in the hands of those who truly depend and understand it and out of reach of those who only exploit it.”
Suzanne Stallard adds:
“The UN talks a great talk. The International Maritime Organisation and International Seabed Authority, both UN bodies, are unfit for purpose. Both are totally corrupted by industry and both govern the Ocean on behalf of industry. We are living in an age of unprecedented ecological breakdown, the UN must recognise this by governance not just in words. We ask the UN to call out its rogue subsidiaries, more harmful to life on earth than rogue states.”
Roc Sandford adds:
“As the seas die we die, and the seas are dying. If the collapse of marine biodiversity is not halted immediately, release of blue carbon currently sequestered in the oceans will accelerate climate breakdown and condemn countless people to an agonising death. We must rush reforms of the existing UN ocean-focussed structures, currently criminally unfit for purpose, whilst simultaneously building a new and effective ocean governance body to take their place. It’s now or never. I don’t understand why everyone isn’t screaming, given what we know about what is happening in the Ocean and what that means for us.”
Photos: João Daniel Pereira. 'OVER ACHIEVING…' and 'THIS IS AN OCEAN EMERGENCY', illuminations of the Torre de Belém.