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Mysteries of the Deep Sea Expedition

Tue, 25 May 2004

Mysteries of the Deep Sea Expedition

Auckland - Over the next couple of months a spotlight will be shining on the world's most destructive fishing practice, revealed Greenpeace today.

During a press conference onboard the Rainbow Warrior, oceans campaigner Carmen Gravatt announced Greenpeace's international campaign to protect deep sea life from the destruction of bottom trawl fishing.

"Bottom trawl fishing poses a major threat to the last undiscovered frontier on the planet - the deep sea. The Rainbow Warrior will be sailing the waters around New Zealand drawing attention to the destructive nature of bottom trawling."

Once thought to be void of life, scientists now estimate between 500,000 to 100,000,000 species live in the deep sea. Many of these species are situated around seamounts - underwater mountains.

"Bottom trawling in the deep sea is like clear felling a virgin ancient forest. Bottom trawl nets are enormous. Their mouths are the length of a rugby field and three storeys high. Weighted across the bottom with heavy steel rollers, they smash and crush corals, swallowing everything in their path," said Ms Gravatt.

In 2001(1), 12 countries took approximately 95% of the reported high seas catch. New Zealand was one of those 12 countries.(2)

"The fishing fleets devastate one area after another and then move onto new grounds in their quest for fish. Bottom trawl fishing has often led to the serial depletion of targeted deep-sea fish stocks," added Ms Gravatt.

Over 1,000 scientists from 60 countries including New Zealand this year signed a statement calling for a global moratorium on high seas bottom trawling. Greenpeace is working collaboratively with the scientists and other international and local organisations to support a United Nations moratorium.

"There is an opportunity for New Zealand to uphold its international reputation as a leader on global marine conservation and support the moratorium at a United Nations(3) meeting next month," concluded Ms Gravatt.

More information and images available at: http://www.greenpeace.org.nz/deepsea

Notes: (1) The last year for which data is consistently available worldwide.

(2) Spain, France, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Iceland, Norway, Faroes Islands (Denmark), Portugal, New Zealand and Japan.

(3) The United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (UNICPOLOS) meeting on June 7 - 11 New York.

ENDS

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