AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands -- As the kick-off to the football world cup approaches, Greenpeace has revealed the shocking fact that every four seconds, marine life in an area of ocean floor the size of ten football fields is wiped out by high seas bottom trawlers. Tomorrow has been designated World Oceans Day, but before it is over, a global fleet of around 300 high seas bottom trawlers will have dragged their heavy nets across an estimated 1,500 km2 of deep-seabed, destroying some of the most diverse, ancient and fragile ocean life on the planet.
Today, volunteers highlighted the enormity of bottom-trawling by comparing the 100 metre nets actually used to a real sized football pitch in Haarlem, The Netherlands. In true football style volunteers raised their shirts and had S C O R E 4 O C E A N S spelt out on their stomachs as a message to governments of the world to take action to protect the ocean today and for future generations. Shirts were worn from the different nations of the world who have either opposed high-seas bottom trawling or support this devastating fishing practice. Visit the league table at www.oceans.greenpeace.org/league-table
"If this was happening on land, there would be an international outcry. It's a question of out of sight, out of mind with the destruction of these beautiful ancient undersea worlds - and all for just a few fish." (1) Said Sari Tolvanen Greenpeace Oceans campaigner. "Huge bottom trawl nets are dragged along the seabed, smashing ancient corals and destroying the other marine life which makes up these fragile deep-sea communities that have taken thousands of years to develop," she continued.
The deep-sea is believed to contain the largest pool of undiscovered life on earth. Scientists estimate that 500,000 to 100 million species exist in the deep-sea. Greenpeace is part of a global coalition of NGOs, over 1500 scientists and an increasing number of states which are calling for a United Nations global moratorium on high seas bottom trawling due to the threat that this destructive fishing activity poses to deep-sea life.
"A moratorium on high seas bottom trawling would allow the necessary 'time out' for scientists to assess the extent and nature of deep-sea biodiversity and policy makers to develop legally binding mechanisms for the protection, sustainable use and management of international waters. The moratorium would be a step towards one of the key solutions to the range of threats our oceans are facing" said Karen Sack, Greenpeace International Oceans Policy Advisor.
"Unless high seas bottom trawling is halted now, the entire area of vulnerable deep-sea corals will have been trawled at least once within the next 16 years - that's in just four World Cup's time", said Sari Tolvanen.
The job is large but not insurmountable. Next week, world governments gather in New York once again to discuss issues related to the protection of deep-sea biodiversity where progress on the high seas issues can be achieved. (2)
Greenpeace's campaign for a UN moratorium on high seas bottom trawling is part of the most ambitious ship expedition ever undertaken by the environmental advocacy organisation. The 14-month long "Defending our Oceans" expedition is exposing the key threats to our oceans and offering real solutions, a global network of properly enforced marine reserves covering 40 percent of the worlds oceans: places that will be protected from industrial exploitation and destruction, from industrial fishing and hunting, and places from which our oceans can begin the process of repair and recovery.
Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation that uses non-violent creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems to drive solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.
(1) At present there are about 250-300 high seas bottom trawling fishing boats and many of these are not full time. This is only 0.3 percent of the three million commercial fishing boats worldwide, and only 0.2 percent of global marine fisheries production. The overall contribution of high seas bottom trawling to global food security is negligible. (2) To see the full list of countries playing on either Ocean Defenders or Ocean Destroyers teams at the Greenpeace 'Ocean World Cup', visit the league table at www.oceans.greenpeace.org/league-table
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