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World's Largest Container Shipping Company Refuses To Ship At-Risk Marine Life; 'The Net Is Closing On Destructive Fisheries'

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- The world's largest container shipping company, Maersk, refuses to ship a number of at-risk marine species including several caught by New Zealand fisheries, reports Greenpeace.

In response to the overfishing crisis facing our oceans, Maersk – which transports about 20 per cent of all international seafood that goes by water (1) – will not carry Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish (also sold as Chilean sea bass), orange roughy or any species of shark and whale aboard its ships.

"Ninety per cent of our fish is exported offshore and it's our fifth biggest export earner (2). If the New Zealand Government and fishing companies don't stay ahead of the global sustainability movement our seafood industry could end up gutted," said Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner Karli Thomas.

"The net is closing on destructive fisheries as retailers continue to reject unsustainable seafood and now a major shipping company is refusing to transport a number of species plundered from our oceans."

"Greenpeace is demanding that the shipping and airline industries end their participation in oceans destruction and stop transporting unsustainable seafood. The urgent next step must be a commitment by companies to refuse to ship the most visible of all overfished species, bluefin tuna, and other species on Greenpeace's seafood red list."(3)

Maersk's refusal to ship Antarctic toothfish is in line with a growing movement to protect the pristine Ross Sea near Antarctica. New Zealand fishing vessels led the charge into the Ross Sea, which is a primary fishing area for the species. In the United States, the world's largest market for toothfish, retail chains including Wegmans and Ahold have committed to sustainable seafood and also refused to sell the fish.

"We recognise the global concerns over the overfishing of toothfish species and support efforts to curb this trade. The checks and processes that we have implemented with our global offices help prevent the transportation of these species as well as IUU [illegal, unreported and unregulated] catches of other species," said Maersk Line Head of Global Seafood, David Pawlan.

Greenpeace has been working with shipping companies and airlines to stop the transportation of whale meat. In April, Greenpeace activists stopped a shipment of meat from 13 endangered fin whales leaving the port of Rotterdam en route from Iceland to Japan (4). NYK Line, the shipping company, agreed to leave the seven containers of whale meat in Rotterdam and refused to transport them to their final destination.

In 2001 Greenpeace received a pledge from 21 major airlines, including British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa and KLM that they would not carry whale meat and blubber on their aircraft (5).

1) 2) Exports account for 90 per cent of our seafood industry earnings and ranked as New Zealand's fifth largest export earner in 2008. 3) The Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior is currently defending the Mediterranean Sea and plans to halt destructive bluefin tuna fishing operations. Bluefin tuna is on Greenpeace's "red list" of seafood species which should not be sold in supermarkets and can be found here: 4) 5) The airlines' commitment came following Norway's announcement that it would resume exporting whale meat and blubber to Japan, including minke whale products, in direct violation of international law. Minke whales are listed on Appendix 1 of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), a classification that prohibits trade in the species.

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