London, UK – Two Greenpeace activists are currently occupying a survival pod which they attached to the anchor chain of a krill fishing vessel in Antarctic waters, in a peaceful protest to protect a critical food source for penguins and whales. Their call to protect the Antarctic is backed by over 1 million people.
Trained climbers from Greenpeace Germany and Greenpeace Nordic safely scaled the side of the Ukrainian trawler More Sodruzhestva to attach the pod, after documenting it fishing for krill – a vital species in the Antarctic food web – in an area being proposed for marine protection. While the activists remain in place, the trawler is unable to resume fishing.
“Krill is the lifeblood of the Antarctic Ocean,” said activist Zoe Buckley Lennox, speaking from the survival pod. “We cannot let the fishing industry steal it away from whales and penguins which depend on it as their main food source.”
Greenpeace is calling for the krill industry to commit to stop fishing in any area being considered by governments for ocean sanctuary status, and to back proposals for marine protection in the Antarctic.
The protest took place during a transhipment (transfer of cargo) with the reefer (refrigerated cargo ship) Skyfrost, near Greenwich Island in the Bransfield Strait. Skyfrost is flagged to Panama, but Greek-controlled. The transhipment took place close to a specially protected area, despite the potential impact on wildlife.
Expansion of krill fishing is being driven in part by an increased demand for the krill oil found in some health supplements, including Omega-3 pills. But a recent Greenpeace International investigation revealed that intensive fishing — including near protected areas — creates competition for food with penguins and whales, and threatens pristine Antarctic waters with potentially devastating fuel spills and fires.
“Krill vessels shouldn’t be fishing from the base of the food web near the feeding grounds of Antarctic wildlife, and they shouldn’t be doing it in areas being proposed as ocean sanctuaries. No business is worth threatening an ecosystem for,” said Thilo Maack, Protect the Antarctic campaigner aboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, which is in the region as part of the campaign.
Fishing for Antarctic krill is currently permitted in various parts of the Antarctic Ocean but creating a well-managed network of marine reserves, including a 1.8 million square kilometre Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary, would help protect the area. The proposal will be considered by the Antarctic Ocean Commission in October 2018.
This release has been corrected to reflect that the survival pod is attached to the anchor chain, not the stern, of the krill fishing vessel.
Greenpeace International’s recent report on the krill fishing industry is available here: Licence to Krill: the little-known world of Antarctic fishing
Thilo Maack is a senior campaigner at Greenpeace Germany.
Photo and video are available here: http://media.greenpeace.org/collection/27MZIFJX9IE3D
Luke Massey, Global Communications Lead – Protect the Antarctic, Greenpeace UK: [email protected], +44 (0) 7973 873 155
Greenpeace International Press Desk: [email protected], +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)