Esperanza sails into the "World's Aquarium"

Greenpeace's Defending Our Oceans expedition celebrates its one-year anniversary in Mexico

Press release - 17 November, 2006
A year after setting sail from South Africa on the biggest ocean expedition Greenpeace has ever undertaken (1), the Esperanza has arrived today in the “World’s Aquarium” to continue to highlight the threats to and beauty of the oceans and demand a global network of marine reserves.

The Gulf of California in Mexico was named the "World's Aquarium" by Jacques Cousteau because of the wealth of marine life. But it is also an example of many of the major threats to all oceans.  It is one of the world's most productive and biologically diverse marine ecosystems, with some of the richest fisheries in the world. It is home to more than thirty species of marine mammals and the world's most endangered porpoise - the vaquita. The region has huge economic benefit for the whole of Mexico, bringing nearly five million tourists and providing half the country's fish supply. But pressure from destructive fishing, pollution and uncontrolled tourism development are threatening life in the Aquarium.

"The future of the region depends upon the seas staying healthy. Mexico can take the lead internationally by protecting the Gulf of California, not only because it is one of the world's richest marine ecosystems but because all threats which we have witnessed in the rest of the world converge here," said Alejandro Olivera of Greenpeace Mexico. "A network of marine reserves in the Gulf of California would benefit fishing, local communities and the country."

Today Greenpeace presented a report to officials and leading marine scientists in La Paz, outlining a plan to protect the region from the major threats (2). The Gulf of California would become part of a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world's oceans.

Tomorrow, November 18th the Defending Our Ocean expedition celebrates one year campaigning for the establishment of marine reserves. The tour began in Cape Town, South Africa, from where the Esperanza left to defend the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary from the whaling fleets.

"Every second breath we take comes from the oceans - they give the planet half of its oxygen. In return we suffocate them with pollution, warm them with climate change and empty them of fish," said Karli Thomas of Greenpeace International "Only through establishing and enforcing a global network of marine reserves can we avoid the collapse of the world's fisheries and the crisis facing our oceans."

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation, which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force solutions essential to a green and peaceful future.

Other contacts: Karli Thomas, Greenpeace International, on board the MY Esperanza, on +47 514 07987Alejandro Olivera, Greenpeace Mexico, in La Paz, on +52 55 2971 1217Isabel Leal, Greenpeace International Communications, in La Paz, on +52 55 3905 5049

Notes: (1) The Defending Our Oceans campaign is a 16-month expedition to highlight the threats to and beauty of the oceans and demand a global network of marine reserves, covering 40% of the world’s oceans. (2) The report A Marine Reserve Network for the Gulf of California is available athttp://oceans.greenpeace.org/gulf-of-california

Exp. contact date: 2006-12-10 00:00:00