Greenpeace Challenges the United Nations at Historic General Assembly Address

Media release - November 16, 2004
The international environmental group Greenpeace made an historic address to the United Nations General Assembly today and challenged the world’s governments to safeguard the future of the oceans.

On the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Greenpeace, speaking on behalf of a coalition of environmentalists that represent tens of millions of people (1), was invited to address the General Assembly - the first time the environment group has been allowed to speak at such a session.

Environmentalists and scientists have been campaigning to ensure the anniversary was marked with one of the most significant steps to protect the rich life of the deep oceans - a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling.

High seas bottom trawling literally ploughs up the ocean floor for relatively few fish and the fleets often target seamounts - the least explored mountains on the planet, that rise more than a 3,000 feet from the ocean floor. Seamounts are teeming with deep sea life, some of which is undiscovered by science and much is unique to individual seamounts.

However, the world's governments ignored scientific advice and an international call from the Convention on Biological Diversity to the United Nations for urgent action and instead have call for a two year review of the problem.

Greenpeace International policy advisor Karen Sack, who spoke at the United Nations General Assembly, condemned the resolution as falling "far short of the comprehensive and immediate protection that is so sorely needed to protect deep sea biodiversity - it is time to stop calling for urgent consideration and actually take action."

NOTES:

(1) 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.

Photos and video of high seas destruction from bottom trawling are available at: www.greenpeace.org/savedeepsealife.