Canada failing to support moratorium on high-seas bottom trawling

Feature story - 30 October, 2006
Blame Canada! The Canadian High Commission in various countries got a timely reminder to stop undermining a global moratorium on high seas bottom trawling at the UN. “Sea Mounties” in New Zealand, huge banners in Sydney and protests in Chile marked what many environmental organizations are calling Moratorium Monday.

"Sea Mounties" protest against Canada's failure to support a moratorium on bottom trawling outside the Canadian High Commission in Wellington, New Zealand.

In New Zealand, two protesters dressed as Canadian Mounties -- or in this case, Sea Mounties -- -were joined by other Greenpeace activists handing out leaflets to Canadian High Commission staff on Monday alongside a banner reading "Shame on Canada - Stop deep-sea destruction". As the South Park characters would proudly proclaim, Blame Canada!  But Spain isn't innocent either.  You can see where countries stand on the call for a moratorium in our handly league table.

Blame Canada…

Canada, of all countries, should know better.  Canada's once-abundant cod and New Zealand's orange roughy have been all but wiped out in the world's biggest fisheries disasters of modern times.

In both cases, these fish populations have been decimated by bottom trawlers that also bulldoze their ancient habitats. Bottom trawling is like destroying paddocks in order to harvest sheep -- no farmer would be that crazy.

Our political advisor Karen Sack said, "We all need to learn from these disasters and act quickly to protect the incredible life in the deep sea. That's why it is particularly upsetting to see the Canadian Government -that should know better  undermining progress on a UN moratorium on bottom trawling in international waters."

…And Spain.

The UN meets next month to negotiate over ways to stop the destruction of deep-sea life in international waters caused by bottom trawlers including a moratorium on the practice.   1500 scientists, over 32000 Ocean Defenders, many environmental organizations, the UN and "Alien" star Sigourney Weaver have all supported a call for a moratorium on high-seas bottom trawling. It seems that Canada and Spain in particular are not getting the message. Spain is effectively blocking the rest of the EU on the issue.

Industrial bottom trawling, or 'dragging' as the Canadians call it, had become the dominant fishing practice after WWII in the centuries-old cod fishery off eastern Canada. By 1992, the cod stocks were devastated, the fishery collapsed and more than forty thousand people were thrown out of work. The Canadian government ignored warnings from scientists about the state of the cod stocks. Now many fear the cod will never come back. It is time Canada started listening to advice given by the scientific community and supported precautionary management measures for the high seas.

We need to see leadership from Canada, not blind repetition of past mistakes.

Take Action!

Tell Canada to stop blocking a moratorium on bottom trawling (or dragging, as they call it).

Call your Canadian Embassy!

Phone calls are powerful things, and can make very strong impressions on people. Pick your favorite talking points, and convey it in your own words.