"The cod has gone, the rest is next"

Greenpeace exposes fisheries failures in the Northwest Atlantic

Press release - 25 July, 2005
The Greenpeace ship Esperanza arrived in the Northwest Atlantic today to document the indiscriminate devastation of deep-sea marine ecosystems caused by the most destructive of all industrial fishing methods - high seas bottom trawling.

60% of all high seas bottom trawling occurs in the Northwest Atlanticby only a few countries (1). The vessels drag weighted nets along thesea floor. Huge chains or rollers attached to the front of the netsdestroy everything in their path, including highly sensitive cold-watercoral and sponge forests. They also catch numerous other marinespecies, which are thrown overboard, dead or dying, as 'trash'.

"Even the fishing industry itself concedes that this is the mostdamaging of all fishing methods. These fleets bulldoze the ocean floorwith their nets, killing everything in their path. Unless the UN adoptsa moratorium on high seas bottom trawling now, much of our rich oceanlife will be wiped out and more fisheries will reach the brink ofcollapse," said Bunny McDiarmid, Greenpeace International OceansCampaigner.

The destruction of deep-sea life in international waters off the eastcoast of Canada is especially troubling because, unlike most otherinternational waters, there is a regulatory body in place to regulatehigh seas bottom trawling in that area. A Greenpeace report releasedtoday: The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization: A Case Study InHow Regional Fisheries Management Organisations Regularly Fail ToManage Our Oceans shows, however, that the NAFO has failed to considerthe impacts of industrial fishing on the marine ecosystem as a whole(2). In 2005, moratoria continue to be in place on four out of the sixgroundfish stocks that they manage, because they have been sooverfished. (3)

"For 25 years, the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Management Organisation(NAFO) has failed to protect the marine environment in this area,leading to the destruction of some of the world's most productivefisheries - the most infamous example being the collapse of thenorthern cod fishery," said Bruce Cox, Executive Director of GreenpeaceCanada. (4)

"Without radical changes, Regional Fisheries Management Organisationssuch as NAFO will be unable to protect deep sea biodiversity and willcontinue to struggle to sustainably manage their fisheries," saidMartin Willison of Dalhousie University.

Other contacts: Racine Tucker-Hamilton, Greenpeace International, +1 202-436-1039Bunny McDiarmid, GP Campaigner on Esperanza (satellite rates apply) +871

Notes: (1) The ships are from, among others, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Canada, and Russia.(2) For a copy of the report visit: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/NAFO-Case-Study(3) "The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation: a case study on how RFMOs regularly fail to manage our Oceans, "Greenpeace International, June 2005 at http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/NAFO-Case-Study, p 4.(4) Abundant cod resources first attracted European fishers to the waters of the Northwest Atlantic hundreds of years ago. In the 1950s, this fishery became industrialised. By the late 1980s it had collapsed as a result of overfishing. A moratorium on cod fishing was established in 1992 and has yet to be lifted. The MV Esperanza documentation follows a similar tour by the Rainbow Warrior in June in the international waters between Australia and New Zealand. Greenpeace exposed a New Zealand bottom trawler throwing a 500 year-old piece of coral overboard that it had ripped from the seabed while fishing, and hauled up in its nets. See: http://www.greenpeace.gen.nz/gallery/For more details of the tour, and to follow the ship's diary, visit: http://weblog.greenpeace.org/deepsea.

Exp. contact date: 2005-07-31 00:00:00