All aboard the Esperanza with Greenpeace

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Last Sunday I had the absolute pleasure of being invited amongst other volunteers to board one of Greenpeace’s iconic research boats; the Esperanza.

Launched in February 2002, the Esperanza is the largest vessel in the Greenpeace fleet. And Esperanza – Spanish for “hope” – is the first Greenpeace ship to be named by our supporters.

Everyone was so excited as we boarded the city cruise boat taking us over thames to the Esperanza, which floating near Tower Bridge. Some Greenpeace volunteers had come as far as Durham to take the opportunity to explore the ship.

Firstly, we were taken to the heli hanger and we warmed up with some ‘erbal tea because it was bladdy freezing. Then we were given a presentation on the upcoming plastic pollution campaign by Greenpeace’s anti-plastics champ, Louise Edge. It was pretty terrifying to learn that plastic use is set to double in the next 20 years, and that…

By the time a baby born today reaches its mid-30s, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish.

Louise wanted our opinions on the campaign, what it should involve/focus on, and what issues it might face. Some of the points discussed included:

  • We must be able to clearly explain how plastic ends up in the seas and oceans when talking about countries like the UK where we have fairly well-contained and regulated wasteΒ systems.
  • We must push for better knowledge and exposure of what can and cannot be recycled dependent onΒ where you live in the UK, and if not, why not.
  • The idea is to roll this campaign out internationally, so as to set an example for the wider world. SE Asia is the worst for plastic pollution.
  • Biodegradable not the solution because this term just means the plastic breaks down quicker; the materials are still pollutants.
  • We agreed that we should work closely with organisations such as Surfers Against Sewage and the Marine Conservation Society on this campaign.
  • We must focus on pressurising multinationals to take responsibility and put budget aside for infrastructure in developing countries to ensure that they recycle, manage and contain the volume of plastic in their waste system efficiently.

Secondly, Frank – who was a member of the Arctic 30 and has worked for Greenpeace for 27 years – talked to us about the Esperanza’s work with the Dirty Tuna campaign. It was used for research, but also to expose and act on illegal fishing practices in Asia. Some of Frank’s stories sounded terrifying, involving pirates and gun-wielding fisher criminals. Apparently they discovered that 20 illegal Fishing Aggregation Devices (FADs) are dropped into the oceans per day, and there are approximately 150,000 in the oceans at one time.

Lastly, we were given a tour of the ship’s lower decks, upper decks, engine rooms and helm. Here are some photos of the mighty Esperanza, please excuse the quality not being great…

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