Exposed! EU destroying deep sea life

Greenpeace takes action while UN talks

Feature story - 18 October, 2004
LATEST UPDATE: Greenpeace takes direct action against bottom trawlersThe needless, excessive destruction of the high seas was exposed after our activists beamed back disturbing footage of deep sea carnage on a European Union (EU) trawler.

A team from the Greenpeace ship MV Esperanza documents catch being landed on board a Spanish flagged bottom-trawler, the Ivan Nores.

A team from our ship Esperanza, braving gales and stormy weather, documented the destruction caused by a Spanish bottom trawler, the Ivan Nores, in the North Atlantic near Ireland. Bottom trawling is the most destructive fishing method happening today, and we have the proof.

The footage from the Esperanza is stunning even to seasoned marine biologists: copious amounts of "bycatch" destroyed by the bottom trawling nets included huge red squid, rays, dogfish, starfish and crustaceans. Fish caught included roundnose grenadier and Baird's smoothead, both of which are extremely vulnerable to fishing pressure.

Check out the footage for yourself!

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All talk no action?

Meanwhile, at the UN in New York, diplomats are talking about the protection of marine life in these international waters. A resolution on the issue is up for discussion in early November. But we think that all this talk is getting us nowhere. "Every day wasted just discussing the need for action is possibly another deep sea habitat gone. The UN must act to stop destructive fishing and save the giant squid and thousands of other marine animals," said Maria Jose Caballero, a campaigner on board the Esperanza.

Bottom-trawling boats, mainly from EU countries, drag fishing gear weighing several tonnes across the sea bed, destroying everything in their path, including marine wildlife such as coral, and devastating life on underwater mountains - or 'seamounts'. Seamounts are usually in the high seas (outside individual countries' economic zones) so these boats are effectively stealing future resources from all of us with absolutely no regulations.

Something's fishy at the EU

Scientists and environmentalists are calling for an immediate moratorium on high seas bottom trawling. However it seems that the EU is continuing to defy both science and logic by not only blocking international progress towards protecting deep sea life, but, as the Esperanza has undeniably pointed out, actively participating in this destruction.

Damage control

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. Right now we are ratcheting up the pressure on UN delegates, particularly from the EU, to ensure that this moratorium happens - international media such as The Financial Times (subscribers only), Wired magazine and the Irish Times (subscribers only) have been picking up the story as well as TV news from Australia to the Netherlands.

We need your help! Make sure you let your foreign minister know what you think about bottom trawling by taking part in our Vote for Squid campaign.

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