Pricking our consciences

Their activities, marked by passion and humanity, sway public opinion. According to a recent Euractiv(1) survey, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are the most effective communicators to give depth to the debate between the EU and its citizens. They have become veritable lobbyists, capable of putting pressure on political authorities and company executives to achieve their objectives. When planet Sea is in danger, the most emblematic NGOs sound the alarm bell.

The Esperanza approaching Sydney in its war against whalers. © Greenpeace/Daniel Beltrá The Esperanza approaching Sydney in its war against whalers. © Greenpeace/Daniel Beltrá

Greenpeace, the agitator

A genuine activist for the preservation of the planet, Greenpeace openly denounces the hooligans of the seas and confronts them with their wrongdoings. Its talent lies in its ability to reach citizens directly via powerful high media
profile initiatives. Its spectacular campaigns against whaling in Japan, with militants protecting whales by placing themselves in the harpooners’ direct line of fire, have become a Greenpeace trademark.
Since 2002, the ship Esperanza - so named by Greenpeace’s cyberactivists - has been pursuing very specific missions like the campaign against the killing of dolphins by trawlermen in the English Channel or bottom trawling in the north Atlantic. On the last World Ocean Day (8 June 2007), Greenpeace put forward three priority themes in its awareness-raising campaign: safeguarding heavily overexploited bluefin tuna stocks, informing consumers of  the need to diversify the number of species being eaten, and creating a vast network of marine reserves covering 40 % of the oceans, which would make it possible to revive ecosystems and reconstitute marine populations.

WWF, the diplomat

WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) is the largest independent nature conservation organization in the world and, as such, is heavily involved in sustainable development. Its groups of experts are at work in over 40 countries, paying particular attention to twenty or so marine eco-regions, including the ice caps of the far north and coral reefs. To better carry out its mission, WWF has set up a European Policy Office in Brussels that acts as a catalyst of influences, able to affect the direction of decision-making at European level. By adopting a cross-sectoral vision of marine preservation, WWF aligns itself with - or rather serves as inspiration to - Europe's new maritime strategy and is working closely with scientists, fishermen, economists, lawyers, lobbyists and other communication experts
to pursue its own maritime programme. In 2002, WWF launched a campaign aimed at changing Europe’s Common Fisheries Policy. Its objectives are the introduction of a highly sustainable fisheries system and the creation of protected marine zones covering 10 % of oceans by 2020.

Friends of the Earth International, the nexus

Since 1969, the world’s largest ecologist network, covering 70 countries, has been mobilising people to tackle current environmental problems, viewed in a combined economic, social and political context. These friends of the earth act in fact as a sort of confederation of different groupings, each retaining its individual autonomy of action. You will find Friends of the Earth at large popular events (music festivals, non-violent demonstrations), distributing information which is intended to be pertinent and able to bring together people from different horizons. By working to create joint initiatives with voluntary associations, trade unions and other social movements that share its  objectives, FoE makes citizens aware of the active role they can play in preserving the environment. For example, since 1992, its Mediterranean programme MedNet has brought together member organisations from Croatia, France, Italy, Spain, Tunisia and the Middle East to reinforce the different ecological movements in the  Mediterranean basin. In the longer term, MedNet hopes to develop a tourism model, organise waste management in the region, and highlight - by 2010 - the negative impacts of introducing a Euro-Mediterranean free trade zone.



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Defenders of the ocean - a few of the many

Seas at Risk -

European Bureau for Conservation & development (EBCD) -

Fondation Nicolas Hulot «Planète eau»-

EUCC - L’union côtière -

Oceania -

Deepwave -