Greenpeace continues to disrupt North Sea cod fishing

Last edited 14 May 2007 at 10:39am
14 May, 2007

Greenpeace volunteers have taken direct action for the second time in three days to halt North Sea trawlers fishing cod towards extinction.

At 8am this morning, 40 miles east of Unst, the most northerly point of the UK, a Greenpeace swimmer, clad in a survival suit and holding onto a buoy emblazoned with 'STOP BATTERING COD', positioned himself in front of the Scottish trawlers Carisanne II and Demares, who were fishing for cod by dragging a huge net between them. The trawlers then immediately stopped fishing and hauled their net.

As the trawlers tried to put their net back in the water, the volunteers attached a large buoy to the net, in a further attempt to disrupt them from catching cod. The trawlers again hauled in their net.

Greenpeace fears that, if fishing for cod is allowed to continue, the species will be wiped out in the North Sea. The international environmental organization is calling not only for a halt to cod fishing, but also for large areas of the North Sea to become protected as 'marine reserves'.

The swimmer was safely picked up by a Greenpeace inflatable boat.

On Saturday, a Greenpeace swimmer tried to stop the Scottish trawler Endurance fishing by placing themselves in the boat's course.

North Sea cod has been classified as a 'threatened and declining species' since 2002. Scientists say that a cod stock in the North Sea of 150,000 tonnes is the bare minimum required, yet stocks are currently estimated at less than 70,000 tonnes.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the official scientific advisory body to the European Union, has described North Sea cod as being 'outside safe biological limits'. They, along with environmental and conversation groups, have repeatedly called for a complete ban on cod fishing in the North Sea every year since 2001, yet have been ignored by politicians and the fishing industry.

"The plight of the North Sea is stunningly simple: if fishing for cod is allowed to continue, cod will be wiped out," said Willie Mackenzie, Greenpeace UK campaigner onboard the Arctic Sunrise. "For some inexplicable reason, politicians and the fishing industry have ignored this fact, so we've been forced to take action to save cod in the North Sea."

"The once thriving waters of the North Sea have been massively over-fished," added Mackenzie. "The only way to save cod stocks is not to catch any. And, to protect both the fishing industry and ocean ecosystems, politicians must step in and create large marine reserves in areas such as the North Sea."

Unless a 'zero catch' is immediately implemented, in the very near future the last cod will be taken from the plundered waters of the North Sea. And even then, areas like the North Sea will need to be designated as marine reserves, which would help to tackle this huge problem and see oceans returned to the healthy ecosystems they once were.

Greenpeace is campaigning for a global network of fully protected marine reserves covering 40 per cent of ocean ecosystems as an essential way to protect the full range of sea life and restore the health of global fish stocks. In Europe, Greenpeace is demanding that EU member states include the provision for such a network in a new law - the Marine Strategy Directive.

Contact information:
Willie Mackenzie, Greenpeace UK campaigner onboard the Arctic Sunrise, tel. +871 764 596 089
Niall Bennet, Greenpeace UK press officer, onboard the Arctic Sunrise, tel. +871 764 596 089
Richard Page, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner, in the UK, tel. +44 780 1212966
Isabel Leal, Greenpeace International media officer, tel. +34 647 241 502

Pictures available from Greenpeace International Photo Desk: Franca Michienzi on +31 653819255.

Footage available from Greenpeace International Video Desk: Hester van Meurs on +31 653 504 721

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