blamecanadathumb.gif Our "Blame Canada (and Espana) animation is causing a massive stir. Lots of Canadian newspapers have featured it, and I hear delegates at the UN meeting have been watching it on Karen's laptop. (Karen is one of our policy advisors at the meeting.)

You can watch it yourself here. This whole thing will be over this week one way or another. Help us tip the balance in favour of deep-sea life (and common sense) by sending a message to the Canadian and Spanish governments.

That said, now on to the news...

The Canadian Press ran a widely picked up story about our animation titled, "South Park characters take on Canadian government":

They've taken on Mel Gibson, Saddam Hussein, Satan and Jesus.

Now the potty-mouthed kids from South Park are featured in an online advertisement -- and their target is the Canadian government and its opposition to a ban on bottom trawling on the high seas.

Love it. And especially love that the CTV version ran with a graphic supplied by Comedy Central. Hopefully that means they have a sense of humour about the whole thing.

The Halifax Chronicle Herald ran an editorial titled, "Ottawa: Stop dragging your heels", strongly criticizing the Canadian government's position:

Ottawa believes more moderate action will suffice. Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn says beefed-up fisheries management organizations – essentially NAFOs on steroids – should be created in currently unregulated areas.

But this is the aquatic equivalent of fiddling while Rome burns. It would take decades, environmentalists say, before the 75 per cent of the high seas which are now unregulated came under the umbrella of such international watchdogs. We don’t have that kind of time to save the seas. Besides, NAFO itself is hardly worth emulating when it comes to getting things done promptly; it needs an overhaul by Ottawa’s own admission, and many of its sister organizations are just about as efficient as squabbling school boards.

Another Canadian Press story ran yesterday with a story titled, "Canada's reputation on the line at UN meeting on trawling, groups say" - in which a Canadian Fisheries and Oceans official made a point of saying that Canada is NOT an international pariah, and went on to explain that a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling would be difficult to enforce. This prompted my response so far:

"There are things like international pornography rings that are difficult to break, and yet countries like Canada do their best to try and do something about that," said Snelgrove, who also holds the Canada Research Chair in boreal and cold ocean systems.

There are only only a few hundred of bottom trawling vessels in the world - taking only 0.5 percent of the global marine catch (by value, according to the UN Environment Program). So I am guessing bottom trawling is going to be a LOT easer to stop than pornography.

Also widely printed is the Associated Press story, "Bottom trawling hurts ecological systems":

Trawlers' nets shatter coral and churn up clouds of sediment that smother sea life, the [UN] report said. The worst damage often occurs to underwater mountains that are home to thousands of species of coral and fish, some still unidentified by scientists, the report said.

"In the case of deep-sea trawling it is, therefore, essential that the burden of proof shifts to governments and fisheries when deciding whether it is appropriate to exploit these irreplaceable ecosystems," said Alex Rogers, one of the study's authors.

One thing I haven't seen in picked up by the media, the University of British Columbia issued a press release about research showing the massive scale of perverse government subsidise to the global bottom trawling industry:

“In comparison, the profit of these fleets comes to only 10 per cent of the total catch,” says Sumalia, who is director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit at the UBC Fisheries Centre. “Eliminating government subsidies renders these fleets economically inviable and as a result, relieves enormous pressure on over-fishing and vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems.”

So... Massive government aid to support a few hundred ships, which do a huge amount of ecological damage... Why again are the Canadian and Spanish governments against a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling? Oh right, because it would be "unenforceable". Strange, but true.

If you want to read some more doozies from the bottom trawling industry and their apologists, check out, "Refuting bottom trawl claptrap" on Defending Our Oceans.