The might of Greenpeace

January 30, 2009

Another tale heard this week that’s worth sharing. Greenpeace campaign against overfishing in Europe. Beyond the risk that we’ll actually run out of fish, overfishing is a bad thing as it upsets complex marine ecosystems. However, these same ecosystems actually also rely on fishing to keep numbers of some fish to reasonable levels. If there are too many of a certain species, that also places marine life at risk. So there’s a delicate balance to be maintained.

And that’s where the interesting element of Greenpeace’s policy comes into play. Although they campaign against overfishing in Europe, they deliberately tend not mention any particular species. They’ve gathered that they have so much of an impact on European consumer habits that were they to declare that any particular species were at risk, the demand for it could drop so dramatically that fishermen would stop fishing for it. Result? A swing the other way –  and a marine ecosystem at risk because of too many of a particular species just a few years after an outcry over too few.

An interesting story, which highlights:

  • The might of Greenpeace. What they say and do really does have an impact.
  • How long the aftermath of a scare-story can linger. Once numbers have levelled off again, Greenpeace could easily say “it’s OK, you can start eating it again.” But that story isn’t nearly as interesting and wouldn’t gain any coverage compared to “fish X at risk; stop or else”. As a result, the latter would linger on for far longer than needed.
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One Response to “The might of Greenpeace”


  1. Most effective was Berlaymonster’s reminder that there is probably no cod… Massive media coverage afterwards.


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