Rainbow Warrior to campaign on deep sea life
Auckland, Thursday 26 May 2005 In the lead up to the 20th anniversary of the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior, Greenpeace's flagship vessel leaves today for international waters around New Zealand to highlight the destructive impacts of bottom trawling
"Bottom trawling is the most destructive fishing practice in the world," said Carmen Gravatt, Greenpeace Oceans campaigner, at a press conference on board the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbour. "The deep sea is the largest pool of undiscovered life on Earth. Bottom trawling these unknown worlds is like blowing up Mars before we get there."
When the Rainbow Warrior sailed to the Tasman Sea last year, the crew documented New Zealand and Belizean bottom trawlers hauling in huge amounts of by-catch, rocks from the sea floor and bottom dwelling marine life, including endangered black coral.
Around the world, scientists and environmental groups are calling for a United Nations moratorium on high seas bottom trawling. The Rainbow Warrior will head out to international waters around New Zealand again to underline the lack of government action in the face of the urgent threat that bottom trawling poses to deep sea life.
"Each day bottom trawling continues, more deep sea life gets wiped out and the situation becomes more critical," said Gravatt.
"A moratorium on bottom trawling in international waters is urgently needed to protect life in the deep sea and New Zealand and Australian Governments should be joining other states in leading the global push for one at the UN."
"Since last year, the New Zealand and Australian Governments have only made statements about establishing a regional fishing agreement. But they have been talking about ways to manage the Tasman Sea for 15 years already and so far failed to come up with any effective biodiversity protection. By the time they sign any agreements, it will be too late."
"The New Zealand and Australian Governments are risking their international reputations and contributing to the destruction of ancient ecosystems we know little about, for the sake of a few fish."
Peter Willcox, captain of the first Rainbow Warrior when it was bombed, will be skippering the ship again during this trip.
"The bombing of the first Rainbow Warrior was a terrible tragedy, but there could not be a better way to commemorate the event than to continue challenging the big environmental issues of today such as bottom trawling in international waters," he said.