Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior

Share this with your friends

PHOTOS: Amber Noel

Recently the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior, docked in San Diego, California to promote their campaign against environmentally damaging tuna fishing practices. While in port, Greenpeace offered a public tour of the ship. The Rainbow Warrior is on her maiden voyage after leaving port from Amsterdam almost two years ago. She has almost circumnavigated the globe, needing only to go through the Panama Canal to get home.

Rainbow Warrior on deckTechnically, this ship is Rainbow Warrior III, as the first Rainbow Warrior sunk after it was bombed by the French intelligence agency in 1985 and the second was turned into a floating hospital after 20 years of service. What is amazing about these two ships, even though out of commission, is that the first is now part of a diving reef in New Zealand and the second will be taken back by Greenpeace once it is of no further use, so Greenpeace can pay for its dismantling.

The main purpose of the Rainbow Warrior’s stop in San Diego was to protest Chicken of the Sea, Starkist, and Bumble Bee. These three companies are at the forefront of harmful fishing practices and are the largest and most destructive fishing outfits in the United States, overfishing our oceans to the point where they may cause extinction in the near future.

The most common practices are the dated tactic of longline fishing and Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs). FADs collect fish in bulk, not discriminating on what is gathered. This means that not just tuna are caught, but sharks, turtles, marlin, and other fish, which are then thrown back to sea, most of them dead or dying.

While personally I would call for the end of all tuna fishing, Greenpeace is more practical. They hope to encourage people to reach out these companies and, through social pressure, convince them to change their practices to a more humane and environmentally friendly approach.

Rainbow Warrior bridgeDuring the tour of the ship, crew members explained that the Rainbow Warrior III was the first Greenpeace ship built to their own specifications; their other ships have been purchased and refitted to the needs of the organization. This means that the Rainbow Warrior is extremely environmentally friendly and although the ship does have motor engines (they have to use them in some cases) they spend 75% of the time sailing on the wind. It can travel up to 13 knots stably. The Rainbow Warrior is the smallest of the three ships currently owned and operated by Greenpeace. The fleet also includes the Esperanza and Arctic Sunrise, the latter of which is currently being held unlawfully by the Russian government.

Free Arctic 30In September, 30 people including activists, journalists, and the crew of the Arctic Sunrise, were arrested after they attempted to board a Russian oil rig in the Pacific Ocean. Their goal was to hang a banner on the rig, which Greenpeace activists have done on similar rigs in the past. The Russian coast guard boarded the Greenpeace ship illegally (the Arctic Sunrise was in international waters), did not identify themselves, and conducted the mass arrest at gunpoint. The ship’s crew was held in Russian prison for 71 days before being released on bail. Their charges are piracy and hooliganism.

Iconic HelmetsSome members of the Rainbow Warrior crew had worked with and knew those who were arrested, so crew members are intimately aware of the dangers they face as they work to expose companies with illegal or immoral practices.

But despite the fear of arrest and potential incarceration, the Rainbow Warrior crew has pledged to continue their work, standing firm in the belief that that if intimidation works to stop one of the most well-known and well respected environmental organizations, there will be nobody left to look out for the health of the world.