Rainbow Warrior takes action against bottom trawling

Press release - 7 June, 2005
On the first day of United Nations' discussions on how to manage the earth's oceans, Greenpeace has taken action against a vessel using the most destructive fishing method in the world, bottom trawling.

Greenpeace activists use wire cables to tie the trawl doors together on the bottom trawler Ocean Reward (NZ).

Using the Rainbow Warrior and inflatable boats, Greenpeace activists disrupted the Ocean Reward from destroying deep-sea life while bottom trawling in international waters in the Tasman Sea.

Activists delayed the vessel from deploying its net by attaching an inflated life-raft, despite being shot at with compressed air guns and sprayed with fire hoses.

Bottom trawling uses underwater nets up to 40 metres wide that are dragged along the sea floor. Huge chains or rollers attached to the front of the nets destroy everything in the their path, including coral forests, as well as sponges, worm tubes, mussels, boulder fields, and rocky reefs. Huge numbers of non-target fish are unintentionally caught as well. They are discarded.

"This type of fishing is considered by scientists to be the greatest threat to deep sea biodiversity and every trawl does incredible damage," said Carmen Gravatt, Greenpeace New Zealand campaigner on board the Rainbow Warrior.

"A global moratorium on bottom trawling in international waters is urgently needed to protect life in the deep sea."

This week the sixth meeting of the United Nations Informal Consultation on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (UNICPOLOS) gets underway at the United Nations in New York. The focus of the meeting is on sustainable fisheries and it is expected that the demand for a UN moratorium on high seas bottom trawling will be again be on the table for discussion. There is a growing number of countries that are moving to support this as the only responsible action to provide immediate protection for deep sea biodiversity.(1)

Last year Greenpeace documented bottom trawlers hauling up sea stars, rocks and even endangered black coral, despite fishing industry claims that their bottom trawling vessels did not touch the seafloor.

"Greenpeace is taking action against bottom trawling in international waters because governments have failed to establish a moratorium to stop the destruction," said Gravatt.

"Every trawl we disrupt, we could be saving coral forests that took hundreds of years to grow."

Other contacts: Carmen Gravatt, Greenpeace New Zealand campaigner on board Rainbow Warrior on +872 1302412Erin Farley, communications officer on board Rainbow Warrior - +872 1302412

Notes: 1. Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Chile, Costa Rica are supporting a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling.