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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.

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of, its staff or its advertisers.

Reader Comments

6 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

We should all take a few minutes to thank companies like Maersk for taking a stand and helping to preserve our oceans while risking their bottom line. Thank you Maersk!
   comment# 1   - Will Noble · San Diego, USA · May 28, 2010 @ 1:35pm

This fantastic news.Thank you Maerskline,you are champions and i salute you and Thank you Greenpeace for your continued fight you are all heros.xxxx
   comment# 2   - Andrea Kriwonosow · Whitsundays,Australia · May 28, 2010 @ 7:11pm

I am writing to thank all the shipping companies that have taken the stand of putting the protection of our endangered wildlife over monetary profit. This is most commendable and shows that these companies have executives with a conscience, as opposed to those like BP.
   comment# 3   - Karen Hanegan · Olympia, Washington, United States · May 29, 2010 @ 5:46am

Thank you for your efforts, they will not go unrecognized..
   comment# 4   - bob scarpelli · chicago , il usa · May 29, 2010 @ 6:35am

Quotas have been set as sustainable by scientists and govt authorities. The fishermen abide by these guidelines - where is the fairness in this? Next shipping companies will refuse - bananas as they contain too much potassium!! - Once again fishermen are caught in the middle while trying to do the right thing.
   comment# 5   - Phil Coop · Melbourne, Australia · May 30, 2010 @ 10:18pm

Props to Maersk! But shame shame shame on NZ for taking part in fishing of tooth fish in the Southern Ocean.
   comment# 6   - Jacquie Bee · Christchurch, New Zealand · Jun 1, 2010 @ 12:06am
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