How much more evidence does the United Nations need?
North Atlantic Ocean, 23 October 2004: Black-fleshed, luminous green-eyed sharks from the depths of the ocean lie dead on the deck of the Greenpeace ship MV Esperanza, yet another example of the failure of nations to protect deep sea life.
A bright orange spider crab with an almost two metre span and other rarely seen high seas creatures, lie alongside the sharks, all dumped from the nets of an EU bottom trawling vessel, as fisheries officials begin negotiations on the future of the high seas today.
The Spanish flagged "Playa de Menduiña", was branded by Greenpeace activists with a magnetic banner on her hull, which read "EU Deep Sea Destroyer" after the vessel refused repeated requests to stop bottom trawling. The ship, the second found by Greenpeace in the past week, was found in the Hatton Bank area of the North Atlantic approximately 400 miles north-west of Ireland.
High seas bottom trawling is the most destructive practise against deep sea life, literally scraping the ocean floor, smashing everything in the path of the heavy nets, including precious corals and whole marine mountains, known as seamounts, as well as killing countless species other than the target catch.
The EU is currently blocking attempts at the United Nations to secure a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling, despite calls from more than 1,000 scientists (1) and dozens of environmental and conservation groups including Greenpeace (2).
Maria Jose Caballero, Greenpeace campaigner onboard the Esperanza, said: "Only a handful of countries bottom-trawl on the high seas. Eleven countries are responsible for about 95% of the take and the EU takes the biggest share. The woeful inaction of governments around the world to do anything to stop this needless and inexcusable way of fishing makes them entirely responsible for the trashing of unique habitats.
"Every day, trawlers from Spain and other EU countries are wiping out important deep sea areas and the marine life it supports. The UN must act to stop destructive fishing and save the giant squid and thousands of other marine animals."
(1) http://www.mcbi.org/DSC_statement/sign.htm February 2004.
(2) Greenpeace is a member of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, an international alliance of organizations, representing millions of people in countries around the world, which is calling for a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling.