Coris julis over a Zostera seagrass bed near Kas, Greece.The Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise is in the Mediterranean for a three-month ship tour taking action on the threats to the sea and calling for a network of large-scale marine reserves to protect the health and productivity of the Mediterranean Sea.
The Mediterranean represents less than 1 percent of the world's
oceans yet contains some 10,000 species - that's around 9 percent
of the world's marine biodiversity.
But over-fishing and destructive fishing, including continued
illegal use of driftnets, pollution, and rampant coastal
development are steadily eroding this treasure.
"Defending our Mediterranean"
Greenpeace, for the third year in a row, is tackling these
threats head-on. With our ship the Arctic Sunrise we are conducting
a 3 month "Defending our Mediterranean" tour. The expedition will
travel across the Mediterranean region exposing and taking action
on destructive activities, documenting areas in need of protection,
and calling for solutions.
The expedition is part of our call for a network of marine reserves across the Mediterranean, in
both international waters and in coastal regions. Marine reserves -
national parks at sea - are areas where no destructive activities
are allowed, they provide a sanctuary for marine life.
The message is simple. "If we want fish tomorrow; we need marine
Threats facing the Mediterranean Sea
Bluefin tuna is
on the brink of collapse
The majestic bluefin tuna is famous as a symbol of the
Mediterranean. This incredible fish can accelerate faster than a
Porsche and can swim as fast as 43 miles (almost 70 kilometres) per
hour. It is one of the top predators of the Mediterranean
food-chain; crucial to the delicate ecosystem.
But Mediterranean bluefin are in serious trouble - "time and
tuna are running out." In 1999, we recorded how Mediterranean
bluefin stocks had declined by 80 percent, and it's getting worse.
Rampant over-fishing and pirate fishing are pushing this precious
species to the brink of extinction.
The bluefin tuna fishery in the Mediterranean is out of control,
and must be closed immediately to allow the population to recover.
Proper management must be put in place, including marine reserves
to protect tuna breeding areas, if the fishery is ever to become
Driftnets - "walls
Driftnets, known as "walls of death" are primarily used to catch
dwindling stocks of swordfish, but are also responsible for
regularly trapping and killing whales, dolphins and turtles that
happen to cross their path.
Driftnets have been banned for years by the United Nations, the
European Union, the International Commission for Conservation of
Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and the General Fisheries Commission for the
Mediterranean, (GFCM). In other words, they are most definitely
Despite millions of euros being spent on decommissioning
driftnets, they are still widely used in the Mediterranean.
Hundreds of thousands of kilometres of these illegal nets are loose
in the waters, indiscriminately killing marine life. In 2006,
Greenpeace confronted and confiscated driftnets from Italian
vessels, including one that had received €28,000 in grants to
change its fishing gear.
Seagrass beds are common to shallow seas around much of the
Mediterranean. They are important nursery areas, and help protect
the seabed. They provide a special habitat for small animals and
plants. But rampant development of coastlines for hotels, holiday
homes, marinas and ports is destroying seagrass beds. In the worst
areas they have disappeared altogether; leading to serious loss of
biodiversity and habitat.
Between 2005 and 2006 Greenpeace Spain recorded that some 1.5
million dwellings and 293 golf courses had been built along 8000
kilometres of Spanish coastline. 116 leisure ports were either
constructed or added to; 102 cases of urban development corruption
were uncovered. The unplanned and reckless nature of this urban
development along the coastline is causing severe erosion and
Thousands of tonnes of toxic waste are pumped directly into the
Mediterranean Sea every year. Shipping, urban and agricultural
pollution and tourism are aggravating the crisis. Mercury, cadmium,
zinc and lead in sediments are found at "hot-spots", all too often
located in coastal zones exposed to pollution. These substances
can travel thousands of kilometres, posing irreversible risks to
human health and marine life across the region.
Approximately one third of the world's total merchant shipping
crosses the Mediterranean each year. Some 370 million tonnes of oil
are transported annually across this busy Sea- that's more than 20%
of the world total.On average 10 oil spills a year happen in the
Expedition is calling for Marine
"Defending our Mediterranean" will confront these threats, and
more. We are calling for a network of marine reserves to cover
forty percent of the Sea. Large scale reserves to protect
international waters, and a network of smaller reserves to protect
coastal areas and allow fishing grounds to recover and flourish
again. A network of marine reserves for the Mediterranean Sea will
represent a shift in the balance of human impacts, from damage and
harm to protection and conservation.
The demand for marine reserves in the Mediterranean is part of
Greenpeace's call for a global network of properly enforced marine
reserves to cover forty percent of the world's oceans. The
Greenpeace ship, the Esperanza is currently in the Pacific
confronting overfishing and calling for the creation of marine
reserves in the
If we want fish tomorrow, we need marine reserves today. Add your name to the call to protect the world's oceans.