Greenpeace Acts to Expose High Seas Destruction as United Nations Talks of Protection on World Oceans Day

Press release - 8 June, 2004
The Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior, today exposed the reality of the most destructive fishing practice on the high seas, after discovering the New Zealand flagged "Amaltal Voyager'' bottom trawl fishing in international waters of the Tasman Sea.

The NZ deep sea trawler West Bay does a fast turn after hauling its catch from international waters in the Tasman Sea. Greenpeace along with more than a thousand scientists are supporting the call for a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling, because of the vast amount of marine life that is destroyed by this fishing method.

Bottom trawling is a highly destructive fishing technique, whichliterally ploughs up the ocean floor, catching all marine life - notjust the targeted fish, and shattering ancient corals. It leaves theseabed almost devoid of life and incapable of recovery, in just onesweep.

While activists from the international environmental organisationdocumented the vessel on the high seas, a Greenpeace delegation hasbegun talks at the United Nations to secure a moratorium on high seasbottom trawling. (1)

"Unregulated high seas bottom trawling is destroying the richbiodiversity of the deep sea, " said Greenpeace campaigner CarmenGravatt, aboard the Rainbow Warrior. "These vessels are fishing withoutregard for the consequences of their actions. "

More than a thousand scientists are supporting the call for amoratorium on high seas bottom trawling, because of the vast amount ofmarine life that is destroyed by this fishing technique. Many specieshave not even been described or discovered before they are fished out,while ancient corals and sponges are decimated, with little chance ofrecovery. (2)

"There are only a small number ofnations responsible for this environmental devastation," said KarenSack, Greenpeace International Oceans Policy Advisor, at the UnitedNations. "While they reap rich rewards, the biodiversity of the leastprotected area of this planet is being wiped out. That is why theUnited Nations must impose an immediate moratorium on bottom trawling."

VVPR info: Photos & video of the Rainbow Warrior confrontation on the high seas are available at Greenpeace International Photo Desk, +31 (0) 653819121 and Video Desk,+31 (0)646 197 322

Notes: (1) The 5th meeting of the United Nations Informal Consultation on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (UNICPOLOS) is being held at the United Nations in New York. It ends on Friday 11th June. The focus of the meeting is on the conservation and management of the biological diversity of the seabed in areas beyond national jurisdiction. (2) Greenpeace's demands to protect the high seas are also echoed by an international environmental alliance, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, which is also present in New York.