EU fleet exposed destroying deep sea life as UN meets to discuss protection

Press release - 18 October, 2004
North Atlantic Ocean, 18 October 2004 -- The needless destruction of the high seas was exposed by Greenpeace this morning, after documenting a EU bottom trawler operating in the North Atlantic.

The needless destruction of the high seas was exposed by Greenpeace this morning, after documenting a EU bottom trawler operating in the North Atlantic.

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 due to be tabled in early November.

While scientists and environmentalists are calling for an immediate moratorium on high seas bottom trawling, the EU continues to defy science and logic by not only supporting a practise that is the most destructive for deep sea life but also effectively blocking international progress towards protecting deep sea life.

A team from the Greenpeace ship MV Esperanza documented a Spanish flagged bottom-trawler, the Ivan Nores, in the Hatton Bank area of the North Atlantic 410 miles north-west of Ireland.

"Bycatch" destroyed by the bottom trawling nets included squid, rays, dogfish, starfish and crustaceans. Fish caught included roundnose grenadier and Baird's smoothead, which are extremely vulnerable to fishing pressure.

Bottom-trawling boats, in the majority 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'.

Maria Jose Caballero, Greenpeace campaigner onboard the Esperanza, said: "Bottom trawling is the most destructive activity on the high seas, and today we were able to expose the devastation they cause."

"Bottom trawlers are trashing areas that are unique and thriving habitats, and are home to probably thousands of marine species that we haven't even discovered."

"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."

The Esperanza is currently investigating and documenting bottom trawling in the North Atlantic. Seamounts in this area run from the south of Iceland to the Azores and form the world's largest mountain range.

Greenpeace is a member of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, an international alliance of organizations, representing millions of people in countries around the world, which is calling for a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling.

VVPR info: Video footage of the bottom trawler is available from Maarten van Rouveroy: +31 646 197 322, and images from Daniel Beltra +31 653 819 255.

Notes: www.greenpeace.org/deepsealife/