A Greenpeace member was “harpooned” by fishermen after the group began to attack their nets.
Several small Greenpeace vessels approached a French fishing vessel in Mediterranean waters, and began attacking its nets in an effort to release its catch of tuna.
In response to this assault, the fishermen reportedly rammed one vessel and slashed at others, sinking their inflatable craft, and fired flares at a Greenpeace helicopter dispatched to observe the attack.
Another fisherman swung what is variously described as a “grappling hook,” “boat hook” (fishermen’s version) or “harpoon” (Greenpeace’s version) at one of the assailants, skewering his leg.
Greenpeace filmed the incident:
The Greenpeace member, a UK citizen, was taken to Malta for treatment – although he suffered a severe wound, his condition is not said to be life-threatening.
Maltese fishing industry groups are livid over the attacks, saying Greenpeace “sought confrontation, and got the confrontation they wanted,” and that Greenpeace “alone bear the blame for the consequences of yesterday’s incidents.”
The French national fisheries body concurred, saying the fishermen “were attacked by helmeted Greenpeace activists, equipped for and engaged in a violent operation – the destruction of a work tool” and that Greenpeace “assumes the right to attack fishermen out at sea.”
The fishermen have requested French naval protection, saying they fear future attacks by eco-terrorists intent on gaining publicity and donations at the expense of their livelihoods, and pointing out that in addition to quotas they have only two weeks in which to land their catch, making their time very precious.
Sea Shepherd have also previously vowed to attack their vessels, so their concerns do not appear unreasonable.
Greenpeace describe their attacks on fishermen as “peaceful direct action”:
“What has happened here this afternoon in the water around us is that the commercial interest has won out over the need to preserve the species and that is why Greenpeace took peaceful direct action today.”
Tuna stocks are widely considered to be under pressure, but efforts to ban the trade have unsurprisingly been unsuccessful – tuna are one of the most economically important catches in the world, worth many billions of dollars annually.
The French vessel’s fishing was thus entirely lawful, and reportedly monitored by an observer in order to ensure they did not exceed their quota.
Possibly environmentalist groups had grown accustomed to the kind of supine response Japanese fishermen exhibited to much more pernicious attacks, not reckoning with the ardour of men set on protecting their livelihood in what remains one of the world’s most perilous occupations.
2ch comments on the difference in reaction:
“They did well!”
“As expected, the white man is merciless – a feat no Japanese could manage.”
“Japanese fishermen ought to do this!”
“Greenpeas: ‘Perhaps we should keep targetting Japan after all.’”
“They got too cocky dealing with the Japanese…”
“They’re aiming to destroy their livelihood – it’s no wonder that happened.”
“It’s a miracle they got away alive.”
“They’ll go back to attacking Japan after that.”
“You might as well expect to walk into a factory and stop the production line.”
“It’s just whites attacking each other so nobody really cares, but if it were Japanese doing this to whites it would be an international issue.”
“Those fish are worth thousands of dollars each, so it’s no surprise they were furious.”