“Small Victories Win Big Wars”

The post title was exclaimed by French oceanographer Philippe Cury upon hearing the news that a tiny non-profit organization won a major battle with a large multinational corporation. Despite the backdrop of the overwhelming disappointment surrounding Rio+20, French deep-sea biologist extraordinaire Claire Nouvian and her small nonprofit BLOOM (who have an adorable logo!) made huge strides in truth-in-advertising. Mort Rosenblum reports at the International Herald Tribune:

Ms. Nouvian’s landmark — or at least watermark — case was about bottom trawling, the use of heavy nets that scrape fragile ocean floors for endangered slow-growing species.

Intermarché belongs to the French group, Les Mousquetaires, which also owns a large Brittany-based trawler fleet that supplies its well-stocked fish counters.

Its ad campaign boasted that it “plays a determinant role in maintaining sustainable fishing in France, the preservation and renewal of marine resources.”

Ms. Nouvian jumped on the company’s assertion that its fishing practices down to 1,500 meters, or about 5,000 feet, caused less damage than a hiker’s footprint on a beach.

“That would be laughable if it didn’t sow doubt among officials and legislators,” she said. “This total scorn for truth bogs down the debate in technical detail and suggests there is scientific controversy, which there is not.” [more details at link above]

For years, the deep-sea was the denizen of its-not-there-if-you-can’t-see-it attitude among governments and corporations. We know too much about the ocean know and how long lasting human impacts can be. Thus, business can no longer greenwash its agenda without objection from from a knowledgable community of experts and an increasingly knowledgable and concerned voting public. Intermarché’s claims of responsible fishing are a slap in the face to every fishermen around the world who practices real sustainable fishing and diverts revenue by those seeking to make a difference with their dollars to fraudulent companies seeking to piggyback on the “green wave”.

Congrats to the small BLOOM for this victory. It goes to show that small, dedicated groups can accomplish much and that accountability still has a place in the arsenal of conservation.

BLOOM’s poster against harmful fishing practices.