Hidden Depths and Hidden Dangers In Earth's Last Wilderness

Press release - 5 October, 2004
The destruction of ancient marine ecosystems, giant squid, snot eels, the possible extinction of species and whole habitats crushed under giant machinery - not the latest science fiction movie, but scientific fact.

*52590:* Mollusc at the Davidson Seamount off the coast of California,

The Greenpeace ship, MV Esperanza, currently campaigning to stop the oceans from becoming a nuclear highway for dangerous plutonium shipments, will soon set sail to the deep ocean of the North Atlantic to expose the impact on deep-sea life of the most destructive activity on the high seas.

High seas bottom trawling literally ploughs up the ocean floor in search of fish and the fleets often target seamounts - the least explored mountains on the planet, that rise more than a 1,000 metres from the ocean floor (1). Seamounts are teeming with deep-sea life, some of which is undiscovered by science and much is unique to individual seamounts.

"Bottom trawlers are effectively clear-cutting areas as rich in life as any rainforest. In minutes they can devastate corals that have taken millennia to grow and wipe out species even before science has had time to study them," said Dima Litvinov, aboard the MV Esperanza. "Every day wasted just discussing the need for action is possibly another deep sea habitat gone."

Scientists and other environmental groups are supporting the call for action (2). The Greenpeace ship will spotlight the deep-sea destroyers as part of the global campaign calling for an international moratorium on high seas bottom trawling at the United Nations General Assembly session this November.

VVPR info: Video available at http://www.greenpeace.org/deepsealife/Stills of deep water creatures are available at: http://activism.greenpeace.org/deepsea/

Notes: (1) Less than one percent of the global fishing fleet practises high seas bottom trawling (a). It is not an economic necessity. But the damage that is done is incalculable. Thousands of scientists have already condemned the practise (b). (a) Spain, Russia, New Zealand, Portugal, Norway, Estonia, Denmark/Faroe Islands, Japan, Lithuania, Iceland and Latvia (b) Scientists' Statement on Protecting the World's Deep-Sea Coral and Sponge Ecosystems - Marine Conservation Biology Institute, Feb 2004(2) Greenpeace is a member of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, an international alliance of organisations, representing millions of people in countries around the world, which is calling for a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling.