A year since its first expedition in defence of deep sea life, the Rainbow Warrior has left Auckland to once again demonstrate the devastation caused by bottom trawling. Last year we exposed the New Zealand and Belize-flagged bottom trawlers in the Tasman Sea ... will this year bring a repeat performance?
The Rainbow Warrior sets out from Auckland to defend deep sea life.
Dave Walsh, web editor on board the Rainbow Warrior again this
year,gave the following account of the 2004 expedition that
followed theactivities of seven ships as they trawled seamounts for
target speciesof orange roughy.
"We watched them raising tonnes of fish, corals - and even rocks
fromthe ocean floor! Dozens of species of 'unwanted' deep sea life,
snappedfrom habitat 1000km below us, were turfed over the side of
the bottomtrawlers, internal organs blown apart from the violent
change inpressure. Hundreds of albatross - a bird usually
considered a loner,drifting at the mercy of the winds - squabbled
over the dead or dyingfish."
Among the huge amounts of bottom dwelling marine life including
fish,sea stars, squid, sea urchins and ghost sharks that were
hauled up anddiscarded, was a delicate branch of endangered black
coral, a specieslisted on the UN Convention on International Trade
in EndangeredSpecies (CITES) for over 20 years. Black coral is
also protectedin adjacent New Zealand waters. Corals are the
foundation of uniquedeep-sea communities and their destruction
affects everything elseliving in or near them on the sea floor.
Speaking at a press conference on board the Rainbow Warrior in
Aucklandharbour to launch the current expedition, Oceans campaigner
CarmenGravatt said "Bottom trawling is the most destructive fishing
practicein the world. The deep sea is the largest pool of
undiscovered life onEarth. Bottom trawling these unknown worlds is
like blowing up Marsbefore we get there."
Recently, in collaboration with the Scottish Association for
MarineScience (SAMS), we also concluded the exploration of a
little-knowncoral reef complex off the west of Scotland. Using
remotely operatedvehicles (small, unmanned submarines), scientists
studied anddocumented the reef, its cold water corals (lophelia
pertusa) and thenumerous species it is thought to host. Previous
surveys of the reefconducted by SAMS found that parts of the
lophelia coral formation are3,800 years old and the base may be
over 10,000 years old.
Next week, our political advisor Karen Sack will speak at a UN
meetingon Oceans. Will the Rainbow Warrior once again unearth
crucialevidence so the UN can see with their own eyes that a
"Each day bottom trawling continues, more deep sea life gets
wiped outand the situation becomes more critical," said Gravatt. "A
moratoriumon bottom trawling in international waters is urgently
needed toprotect life in the deep sea."
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