The Arctic Sunrise is currently in Bergen, on the west coast of Norway, to stock up on essential supplies and for some crew changeovers. I'm one of a five-strong contingent from the Greenpeace UK office who arrived here late on Sunday night after a 30-hour ferry trip from Newcastle and I'll be your webmaster for the second half of our North Sea Marine Reserves Tour.
Today we're heading back out into the North Sea to engage with more fishing boats and tell them it's time to 'Stop Battering Cod'. The cod fishery here has been in crisis since the early 1990s, when improved industrial fishing methods led to catches falling rapidly to less than a third of what they had been in the mid-1980s.
And this is despite regular warnings from EU scientists, who've been recommending that no cod be fished from the North Sea for the past seven years because stocks are at such dangerously low levels. However, no politicians have had the nerve to enforce this rule, fearing that taking on the fishing industry would mean losing votes in key marginal constituencies. In private, many politicians and fishermen would admit that if things continue like this, commercial fishing in the North Sea could be a distant memory within twenty years.
Marine reserves are really the only solution to this looming disaster, which is why we've been calling for over three years. If this fragile ecosystem has any chance to recover, 40 per cent of the entire North Sea needs to be designated 'no take' zones. There are signs that the idea is catching on around the world - only last week a California state panel approved plans to protect 200 square miles of coastal waters along the central coast and designated no-fishing zones to create safe havens for marine life.
A longer-term experiment has been running on the Micronesian island of Palau for over a decade. In 1994, the elders of Ngiwal village banned fishing in a small area of reef and, after a few years, fish numbers increased sgnificantly so other villages started to do the same.
Today, Palau, a tiny island state 600 miles east of the Philippines that is internationally known as a site for recreational diving, is at the forefront of a worldwide movement to ban fishing in key reefs to allow the return of prized species. It now protects a patchwork of reefs and lagoon waters amounting to 460 square miles.
It's vitally important that our politicians learn from these experiences. The North Sea can recover given time - but time is rapidly running out.