Police end Greenpeace blockade of trawler

Press release - August 7, 2009
Three Greenpeace activists arrested today for blockading a fishing trawler say they have successfully sent the Foodtown supermarket chain a message to stop selling orange roughy and to implement a sustainable seafood policy. (1)

Greenpeace activists blockade trawler

Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner Karli Thomas said the activists had drawn attention to an issue which impacted on seafood consumers and the New Zealand economy.

"Foodtown and other supermarkets have a responsibility to safeguard our fisheries both environmentally and economically. They need to send a strong message to the fishing industry that they will only stock seafood which is truly sustainable and caught using methods which are not destructive to the marine environment.

"We've made our point that New Zealand's oceans are being destroyed and Foodtown and other seafood retailers have the power to help put a stop to it.

Before police arrived fishermen on the vessel attempted to deter the activists with high pressure hoses and grabbed a 20 metre banner which read 'Foodtown costing us our oceans' as activists aboard an inflatable attempted to attach it to the side of the hull.

Three activists were arrested by police 90 minutes after boarding the Seamount Explorer, as it was getting to ready to leave the Brigham St wharf in Westhaven. Two of the activists who had locked themselves to the ships structure were cut free by police using bolt cutters

Four other activists in two life rafts which were attached to a heavy cordon chaining the 45 metre trawler to the wharf were also removed by police but were not charged. Even while police were cutting them free they held up banners reading 'Foodtown costing us our oceans' and 'Stop bottom trawling.'

Thomas said the Greenpeace had taken action to highlight how Foodtown and other supermarkets were fuelling a demand for unsustainable seafood caught using destructive fishing methods like bottom trawling."

New Zealand's supermarkets are run by two companies, Progressive Enterprises (the owners of Foodtown) and Foodstuffs, putting these companies in a powerful position to affect change, she said.

Supermarkets in North America and Europe, which had adopted sustainable seafood policies, were taking New Zealand-caught species like orange roughy and hoki off their shelves as the fisheries failed to meet their sustainability standards.

"Despite continued encouragement our supermarkets have not yet chosen to help protect our fisheries, our fishing industry, the marine environment or New Zealand's clean, green reputation. Instead, they continue to be part of the problem.

"Foodtown is supporting vessels like this to harvest orange roughy by bottom trawling, one of the most destructive catch methods that wipes out everything in its path including fragile deep sea ecosystems and centuries-old coral - it's the equivalent to clear-felling our native forests."

Orange roughy is at the top of the Greenpeace Red List of 12 species of commercially caught seafood which should be avoided due to sustainability issues and destructive fishing methods.

Greenpeace is also calling for a network of fully-protected marine reserves covering 40 per cent of the world's oceans to safeguard them against the ravages of climate change, restore the health of fish stocks, and protect ocean life from habitat destruction and collapse.

Other contacts: Karli Thomas, Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner, 021 905 582 Phil Crawford, Greenpeace New Zealand communications officer, 021 2299 594

Notes: (1) http://www.greenpeace.org/international/seafood/changing-your-business/model-policy Photos available on the Greenpeace media gallery http://www.greenpeace.gen.nz/media/main.php

Exp. contact date: 2009-09-07 00:00:00