Also by Willie

Turning Japanese retailers onto sustainable seafood

Posted by Willie — 3 September 2010 at 2:41pm - Comments

Handing out sustainable seafood guides on the streets of Tokyo (c) Sutton-Hibbert/Greenpeace

There's a common comment in this part of the world, often repeated on the internet especially, about sorting out the seafood problem: namely, we have to change minds in Japan.

Whilst it's a simplistic generalisation, there is a lot of truth in that. Seafood is a global commodity and a global problem. The big markets for seafood are (perhaps unsurprisingly) North America, Europe, and Asia.

The trouble with tuna

Posted by Willie — 25 August 2010 at 11:01am - Comments

Is removing salade nicoise from the menu better than searching out sustainable tuna supplies? (Photo (c) FotoosVanRobin)

When you get a bit close to a subject, you get geeky. Before you know it you are scoffing at how other people could possible not know something, because you do. Yet of course it's true that the vast majority of the public are very much in the 'don't know' camp.

Scotland, Norway, EU, Iceland and Faroes square up in mackerel smackdown

Posted by Willie — 20 August 2010 at 6:35pm - Comments

It's a confusing time in the north Atlantic with an international controversy brewing over the humble mackerel. Some are comparing it to last century's 'cod wars', when the UK and Iceland went to battle over access to cod fishing.

Mackerel, an exquisitely beautiful fish related to the tunas, is relatively plentiful, occurs in big shoals, and can be caught quite 'cleanly' by seine nets or handlines. For these reasons (as well as the health benefits of it being an oily fish), it has become a firm favourite for those seeking a sustainable option.

Tourists invited to try their hand at whaling in Iceland?

Posted by Willie — 17 August 2010 at 9:08am - Comments

Is this the kind of whale watching Icelandic whalers are considering? © Greenpeace/Axelsson

I've long since given up trying to apply any semblance of logic to the arguments for whaling, and the latest news from Iceland doesn't prove me wrong.

New reports question if there are plenty more fish in the sea

Posted by Willie — 4 August 2010 at 9:57am - Comments

Not plenty more where that came from © Greenpeace/Cobb

If you're reading this in the UK, you ran out of fish today.

Basically, the UK eats more fish than its waters produce and, thanks to some nifty fish-counting from the clever folks at NEF, that equates to the 4th of August being the day we use up our year's fish supply. In comparison to the EU as a whole, we fair a month better but then we are a country with quite a lot of seas, certainly in comparison with, er, Austria and Romania. Yet, for almost five full months we are relying on fish from somewhere else. And that might be okay, if there was plenty of it to go around. But of course, as the old saying should go, there aren't plenty more fish in the sea.

Are whales negotiable for our new government?

Posted by Willie — 8 July 2010 at 11:00am - Comments
Icelandic whalers at work

Yesterday, a resolution was passed in the European Parliament welcoming Iceland's application to join the EU. Iceland's application raises some interesting questions, especially in the light of recent divisions within the EU on environmental issues.

On fishing, for example, Iceland famously has control over its own waters, would it be prepared to let other EU vessels have free access? It's gone to (cod) war over the issue before… and then there are whales. In the EU all cetacean species (that's whales, dolphins and porpoises) are protected species under the Habitats Directive. So it's a no brainer that whaling is 'not allowed' in the EU. Moreover, the EU member states take a common position and vote as a bloc when it comes to international bodies like the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and CITES.

Why Greenpeace won't compromise on commercial whaling

Posted by Willie — 21 June 2010 at 10:53am - Comments

As the International Whaling Commission (IWC)'s annual meeting begins in Morocco, there has been a flurry of media coverage over a possible 'deal' or 'compromise'. Often the details, and sometimes the central points, can get lost as things are translated, edited, reworked and re-edited for the media, so I wanted to take the opportunity here to spell out just what Greenpeace's position is.

This meeting is causing a stir because there is the possibility of some sort of deal to address the future of the IWC. Reform has been a long time coming, and everyone agrees that the IWC needs an overhaul. The current deadlock means that the Commission is effectively stymied from taking on the serious conservation work that is so desperately needed. And, of course, we have the deplorable situation of a global ban on commercial whaling being flouted by Japan, Norway and Iceland.

Why it’s time to save the whales, again

Posted by Willie — 21 June 2010 at 9:11am - Comments
Sperm whale breaching © Greenpeace/Paul Hilton

Next week, our governments will get together in Agadir, Morocco, to talk whales. It’s the International Whaling Commission’s annual meeting. And this year, the main topic of conversation will be the IWC itself.

In reality, this is a testing time for the whales, and in many ways we need to make sure we save them all over again. Way back in the 80s when a moratorium, or ban, on commercial whaling was agreed, many countries had already stopped whaling. As the official catch figures show, by the time the ban came into force in 1987 commercial whaling was reduced to practically zero.

Japan's sordid vote-buying on whaling exposed

Posted by Willie — 14 June 2010 at 3:20pm - Comments

Votes to support whaling are being bought by Japan in return for aid donations

So, what's your price to sell out the whales?

Some brown envelopes stuffed with cash? A nice big cheque for development aid? All-expenses paid trips to exotic locations? Or some dubious entertainment, including 'good girls'?

Welcome, dear friends, to the world of international diplomacy, Japanese government style. Yesterday, in a shocking expose, the Sunday Times showed the tawdry reality of Japan's vote-buying tactics to undermine the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Using undercover reporters, they managed to elicit scandalous accounts of just what the government of Japan offers to get the support of developing nations in the Caribbean, the Pacific, and Africa.

Purse-seining season closes early for Mediterranean bluefin tuna

Posted by Willie — 9 June 2010 at 3:58pm - Comments

Greenpeace ships step in to stop bluefin tuna being fished to extinction © Hilton/Greenpeace

Today, or at 11.59pm tonight, to be exact, the purse-seining season for bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean is being closed. A week early.

I'm back on land now, having left the Arctic Sunrise in the Med. In London, we've had a flurry of media calls, excited by what they think is the "good news" that "bluefin fishing is being banned" in the Mediterranean.

So I thought, as well as putting the record straight with any journalists who'll listen, that I should maybe explain to everyone else what exactly is happening. And whether it is indeed "good news".

About Willie

Hi, I'm Willie, part of the Greenpeace UK biodiversity team. I work mostly on oceans and fishy issues.

Twitter: @williemackenzie

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