Greenpeace activists aboard the Beluga II sailed into the German
North Sea today and began placing over 150 granite rocks, each
weighing 2-3 tonnes, on the seabed. The aim is to stop fishing in
an area which on paper is protected under European law.
The Sylt Outer Reef is home to an abundance of sea life and is a
popular fishing ground. Although the reef is designated as a
'Special Area of Conservation' by the EU, highly destructive
fishing practices such as bottom trawling and sand and gravel
extraction are permitted. This is decimating the marine life that
inhabits the area, including well known fish species such as plaice
and sole, and destroying the reef.
By strategically placing granite rocks, Greenpeace intends to
protect this ecologically diverse area from destructive practices
including bottom trawling.
Greenpeace Germany oceans campaigner, Dr Iris Menn said:
"The fishing industry is not only pushing many fish species to
the point of collapse, but also their own future. If they carry on
emptying the oceans of sea life then very soon there will be
nothing left for them to fish.
"We need the Sylt Outer Reef to truly be protected - and not
just on paper. That means an enforceable ban on fishing and sand
and gravel extraction in the area to create an effective marine
reserve. Only this will give the area a chance to recover after
decades of exploitation."
Greenpeace is calling on the German government to press the
European Commission to implement new measures which will prohibit
fishing in the area by the beginning of next year at the latest,
and is calling on the Netherlands, Denmark and the UK to support
this. Greenpeace is also demanding that the latter also takes steps
to complete its own network of marine reserves.
Dr Menn continued:
"If the German government is not going to honour its commitments
and give the Sylt Outer Reef the protection it so badly needs, then
it is up to Greenpeace to act. By placing these rocky obstacles to
stop trawling in the area, we are sending a clear message - that
business as usual cannot continue."
Most of the world's governments have promised to create a
network of marine reserves by 2012 as part of the UN Convention on
Biological Diversity. Under the EU Habitats Directive, all EU
member states are bound by law to establish a network of protected
Greenpeace is campaigning for a global network of fully
protected marine reserves covering 40 percent of our oceans
including the North Sea as an essential way to protect our seas
from the ravages of climate change, restore the health of fish
stocks, and protect ocean life from habitat destruction and
Other contacts: Greenpeace campaigners aboard the Beluga II - Dr Iris Menn and Pavel Klinckhamers can be contacted on sat. phone 00 88 16 214 17 778. Greenpeace Netherlands press officer, Andre van der Vlugt, tel: +31 62 503 1015.Greenpeace Germany oceans campaigner, Thilo Maack, tel: +49 171 8780 841.
VVPR info: Photos are available from Greenpeace picture desk at 00 49 40 3 06 18 377For footage (available from 15.00 CET onwards) please phone 00 40 40 6579 6223
Notes: The Sylt Outer Reef is one of the few stone reef areas in the North Sea and is home to a diverse range of marine species, including animals that live on the stones to fish species like the endangered twaite shad and river lamprey. The area is known as an important breeding and nursery area for the harbour porpoise and is also an important feeding ground for both common seals and grey seals. The harbour porpoise population is one of the most threatened species of cetacean (whales and dolphins) in Europe and giving protection to this species is one of the primary objectives for this designated area.Bottom trawling involves dragging a net with heavy chains along the seabed. It is one of the most destructive fishing methods - physically disturbing the seafloor and typically results in high levels of bycatch. For example, when fishing for sole and plaice, as much as 80 percent of the catch can be bycatch. This unwanted marine life is then thrown over board dead or dying.