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Greenpeace showdown in the South Pacific

The Story


Today, Vancouver's David McTaggart feels safe and secure. However, it wasn't that long ago that he was on a dangerous mission for Greenpeace, sailing his yacht from New Zealand to Moruroa in the South Pacific. He went there to try to stop French atmospheric nuclear testing. In this CBC Radio clip, McTaggart describes in horrific detail how he almost lost his right eye as seven French commandos boarded his ship and mercilessly beat him within an inch of his life. 

Medium: Radio
Program: This Country in the Morning
Broadcast Date: Sept. 14, 1973
Guest(s): David McTaggart
Host: Peter Gzowski
Duration: 17:46

Did You know?


David McTaggart became a driving force behind Greenpeace in the 70s, leading a series of high-profile campaigns that helped the organization become a powerful global environmental watchdog. He became the head of Greenpeace Europe and in 1979 Greenpeace International was born as McTaggart brought all the regional offices together under an umbrella organization, saving Greenpeace from bankruptcy. He retired from active chairmanship in 1991. McTaggart died in an auto accident on March 23, 2001 near his home in Umbria, Italy. He was 68 years old.

• In 1972, McTaggart first set sail to Moruroa from New Zealand in protest of France's atmospheric nuclear testing. McTaggart's yacht Vega, later named Greenpeace III, was rammed by French warships and seized by the French government who went on to successfully complete its testing.
• Following the 1973 incident described in this clip, McTaggart filed a lawsuit against the French government. In 1975 a Paris court ruled in his favour, awarding him damages over the French ramming his boat.

• Greenpeace scored a minor victory in 1974 when the French government announced it would limit nuclear tests to underground testing.


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