UK commission findings - a wake up call to the crisis in our oceans

Press release - 7 December, 2004
London, 7 December 2004 -- Greenpeace today welcomed the findings of the UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution’s (RCEP) investigation into the environmental effects of marine fisheries.

A team from the Greenpeace ship MV Esperanza documents catch being landed on board a Spanish flagged bottom-trawler, the Ivan Nores, in the Hatton Bank area of the North Atlantic, 410 miles north-west of Ireland. Bottom-trawling boats, the majority from EU countries, drag fishing gear weighing several tonnes across the sea bed, destroying marine wildlife and devastating life on underwater mountains ? or seamounts.

Greenpeace urged the UK government to adopt key recommendations from the report and for the EU to take heed of the findings. The recommendations include: - designating 30% of UK waters as marine reserves, promoting the establishment of a system of marine protected areas on the high seas and international controls on high seas bottom trawling.

Greenpeace UK Chief Scientist Doug Parr said, "The North Sea is a perfect example of just how badly wrong government has got marine management. One of the world's most productive seas is today one of the most degraded in the world."

He continued, "The Commission's call for a total re-think of the way we manage our oceans needs to be heeded first by UK Government and then by EU. We need to create large scale marine reserves and outlaw destructive fishing techniques, like bottom trawling, that are strip mining the oceans."

He concluded, "This authoritative Commission has provided all the information needed to act. What is now required is the political will from governments not to cave in to business lobbying. If this means substantial public support for a fishing industry in transition, the money must be found."

In November, Greenpeace ship MV Esperanza witnessed first-hand the destructive practice of high seas bottom trawling in the North East Atlantic. The organization is campaigning for a worldwide UN moratorium on the practice.

VVPR info: Photo and video of Greenpeace’s oceans work in the North Sea and North East Atlantic are available.