Greenpeace builds shield against bottom trawling in the North Sea
Vessel places granite boulders on seabed to protect reef
Germany — Greenpeace activists aboard the Beluga II sailed into the German North Sea today and began placing over 150 granite rocks, each weighing 2-3 tonnes, on the seabed. The aim is to stop fishing in an area which on paper is protected under European law.
Greenpeace activists aboard the Beluga II sailed into the German North Sea today and began placing over 150 granite rocks, each weighing 2-3 tonnes, on the seabed. The aim is to stop fishing in an area which on paper is protected under European law.
The Sylt Outer Reef is home to an abundance of sea life and is a popular fishing ground. Although the reef is designated as a ‘Special Area of Conservation’ by the EU, highly destructive fishing practices such as bottom trawling and sand and gravel extraction are permitted. This is decimating the marine life that inhabits the area, including well known fish species such as plaice and sole, and destroying the reef.
By strategically placing granite rocks, Greenpeace intends to protect this ecologically diverse area from destructive practices including bottom trawling.
Greenpeace Germany oceans campaigner, Dr Iris Menn said:
“The fishing industry is not only pushing many fish species to the point of collapse, but also their own future. If they carry on emptying the oceans of sea life then very soon there will be nothing left for them to fish.
“We need the Sylt Outer Reef to truly be protected – and not just on paper. That means an enforceable ban on fishing and sand and gravel extraction in the area to create an effective marine reserve. Only this will give the area a chance to recover after decades of exploitation.”
Greenpeace is calling on the German government to press the European Commission to implement new measures which will prohibit fishing in the area by the beginning of next year at the latest, and is calling on the Netherlands, Denmark and the UK to support this. Greenpeace is also demanding that the latter also takes steps to complete its own network of marine reserves.
Dr Menn continued:
“If the German government is not going to honour its commitments and give the Sylt Outer Reef the protection it so badly needs, then it is up to Greenpeace to act. By placing these rocky obstacles to stop trawling in the area, we are sending a clear message – that business as usual cannot continue.”
Most of the world’s governments have promised to create a network of marine reserves by 2012 as part of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Under the EU Habitats Directive, all EU member states are bound by law to establish a network of protected areas.
Greenpeace is campaigning for a global network of fully protected marine reserves covering 40 percent of our oceans including the North Sea as an essential way to protect our seas from the ravages of climate change, restore the health of fish stocks, and protect ocean life from habitat destruction and collapse.
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