Rainbow Warrior defends Mediterranean Sea

Press release - 13 July, 2009
Greenpeace activists have painted an oil supply barge operating in the vicinity of the marine natural park “del Estrecho” in the Algeciras bay, with a message reading “España contamina” (Spain contaminates). Greenpeace is calling for an end to the high risk practice of oil bunkering in this area. (1)

"Industrial oil bunkering in close proximity to a marine protected area makes a mockery of the area protected status, making the protection not even worth the paper it is written on. The Spanish governmentmust completely ban such practices in recognized sensitive marine habitats," says Celia Ojeda, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace Spain.

Today’s action marks the launch of a three-month Defending Our Mediterranean tour,during which the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior will visit Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Lebanon. Throughout the tour Greenpeace will call for the creation of an ambitious network of marine reserves to preserve the Mediterranean biodiversity from overfishing, pollution and climate change impacts.

In June, the Rainbow Warrior already monitored the seasonal closure of the purse seine fishery for the endangered bluefin tuna, urging for the full protection of the species’ spawning grounds.(2)

The Mediterranean countries must be bold and prioritise the establishment of a network of marine reserves in the high seas and coastal waters, to allow for the survival and recovery of vulnerable ecosystems following decades of overfishing and industrial pollution. The network must be completed by 2012 at the latest in line with regional and international commitments.

“The Mediterranean is being destroyed and time is all most gone to reverse the tide. All bordering countries have to respect their obligation to ensure there will still be marine life for the benefit of the future generations” says François Provost, Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace International.

Less than one percent of the Mediterranean Sea is currently protected. Greenpeace is promoting a rescue plan for the sea and for the livelihood of those who depend on it, through the creation of a network of marine reserves covering 40 % of the Mediterranean as an essential way to effectively protect vital habitats, allow for the recovery of overfished species and boost the resilience of ecosystems to climate change.(3)

Other contacts: Celia Ojeda Martinez, Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace Spain: +34 638 101 735/ or Mariajo Caballero Campaign Coordinator at Greenpeace Spain: + 34 626 998 249

François Provost, Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace international: +33 623 590 963

Yesim Aslan, Communications officer at Greenpeace International: +905 323 167 365

Notes: (1) http://www.greenpeace.org/espana/news/090713“Crisis ambiental y de salud” Spanish report at http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/espana/reports/090619.pdf

(2) See Greenpeace blog at http://members.greenpeace.org/blog/jhocevar

(3) “Marine Reserves for the Mediterranean Sea” report: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/marine-reserves-med “Pushed to the brink: The oceans and climate change” report: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/press-center/reports4/pushed-to-the-brink-the-ocean

References: The Mediterranean accounts for 0.82% of the oceans’ surface area but shelters 4-18% of the world marine biodiversity. UNEP-MAP-RAC/SPA 2008. Impact of climate change on biodiversity in the Mediterranean Sea. By T. Perez, .RAC/SPA Edit., Tunis : 1-61.http://www.medpan.org/_upload/1120.pdf

85% of Mediterranean and Black Sea fish resources are fully exploited, over exploited or depleted according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization FAO. 2004. The State of World Aquaculture and Fisheries 2004. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, Rome

The Mediterranean accounts for 0,82 % of the world’s oceans surface but hosts 20% of global oil shipping([i]), 17% of global marine oil pollution ([ii]), and 33% of world tourism ([iii])i) MAP and REMPEC. 1996. An Overview of Maritime Transport in the Mediterranean. Athens, United Nations Environment Programmeii) UNESCWA 1991 (BANU)iii) UNEP. 2005. Tourism Expansion: Increasing Threats, or Conservation Opportunities? Early Warning on Emerging Environmental Threats.

Pollution in this region has been extremely high in recent years. The United Nations Environment Programme has estimated that 650 million tons of sewage, 129,000 tons of mineral oil, 60,000 tons of mercury, 3,800 tons of lead and 36,000 tons of phosphates are dumped into the Mediterranean each year. http://www.unepmap.org/index.php?module=news&action=detail&id=5