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Greenpeace takes action in the North Sea to stop the collapse of cod


International — Greenpeace volunteers attempting to save North Sea cod from being pushed towards extinction plunged into the ocean 40 miles from land today and tried to stop a Scottish trawler by placing themselves in its course.

Swimmers from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise entered the water at 9am, east of Unst, the most northerly island in the UK. Clad in a survival suit and holding on to a floating sign emblazoned ‘STOP’, they positioned themselves in front of the trawler in an effort to stop it fishing.

Greenpeace fears that, if fishing for cod is allowed to continue, then cod will be wiped out in the North Sea. They are 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 trawler, called Endurance, did not alter its course and the swimmers were swept off to the side in the ship’s wake before being picked up by a Greenpeace inflatable boat.

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 fishing industry and politicians have ignored the scientists and continued to batter cod stocks. We’re in the North Sea to save the cod from extinction, and a part of the Scottish fishing fleet from collapsing,” said Willie Mackenzie, Greenpeace UK campaigner onboard the Arctic Sunrise. “We’ve had to take action today to stop cod being caught because otherwise it will disappear from the seas and our dinner plates.”

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% 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.

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organization, which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force solutions essential to a green and peaceful future.


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