Our Address to UN: Save the Deep Sea

Greenpeace calls for end to high seas bottom trawling

Feature story - November 16, 2004
She had born witness to an environmental crime: the bulldozing of fragile ocean ecosytems. And today she was in the presence of people who could do something about it. At the appointed moment, she leapt into the spotlight to demand action, not words. On the 10th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, our own policy advisor Karen Sack spoke in the hallowed halls of the United Nations.

Karen Sack addresses UN General Assembly.

In the run up to today's debate about how to better protect our ocean environment, we and the other members of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition have been showing graphic evidence-in photographs, video, and scientific reports, that high seas bottom trawling is the most destructive practice impacting deep sea life.

High seas bottom trawling literally ploughs up the ocean floor for relatively few fish. The fleets often target seamounts - the least explored mountains on the planet, that rise more than a 1,000 meters 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. We know more about Mars than we know about some of these habitats.

Yet our pleas have been ignored. Instead an international call from the Convention on Biological Diversity to the United Nations for urgent action has been watered down to a call for a review in two years time.

"The interests of the few bottom trawling nations have won out over science and common sense," said Karen Sack at the United Nations. "There are deep sea species that are still unknown to science and yet the commercial interests of a few are considered more important. Who knows how many of those species could be wiped out while the politicians sit back reviewing."