Greenpeace UK creates underwater rock barrier – Oceanographic
Greenpeace UK has placed 18 limestone blocks on the seabed of the Deep South West (Eastern) Marine Protected Area in the UK to block destructive industrial fishing.
On Thursday, September 1, activists and crew aboard the Greenpeace ship arctic sunrise sailed west of the English Channel to make part of the southwestern depths closed to bottom trawling. The bloc action came days after UK leaders failed to help secure a global oceans treaty at IGC5 in New York, threatening the government’s goal of achieving at least 30% protection of the oceans by 2030.
“At the moment there is an industrial fishing frenzy in UK waters, and what is our government doing about it? Greenpeace UK created this underwater rock barrier as a last resort to protect the oceans. We would much rather see the government just doing its job,” commented Will McCallum, oceans manager at Greenpeace UK.
He continued: “It is outrageous that bottom trawlers are allowed to scrape the seabed in most of our marine protected areas every day. They are destroying huge swathes of the marine ecosystem and mocking our so-called “protection”.
“Protecting the oceans is even more urgent now that our leaders have failed to secure a global ocean treaty. Our new prime minister must protect local fishing communities and immediately ban industrial fishing in marine protected areas by changing commercial fishing licenses. The government already has the power to do this; all they need is the will to do it.
Across the entire Southwest (East) Depths – over 4,600 km2 – there is not a meter of protection from destructive industrial fishing. It is one of the most heavily fished marine protected areas in the UK. Over the past 18 months, the depths of the southwest have seen nearly 19,000 hours of industrial fishing, including 3,370 hours of bottom trawling. The majority of industrial fishing vessels in the area came from France (53%), followed by Spain (30%) and Great Britain (9%).
Celebrities Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Simon Pegg, Stephen Fry and Daniel Lismore are backing the action, alongside Tory politicians Henry Smith MP, Sir Peter Bottomley MP and Theresa May’s former Downing Street environmental adviser Lord Randall, as well as Caroline Lucas MP of the Green Party . Their names were stenciled on the rocks before being thrown into the ocean.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said: “For more than a decade, I have been just one voice among millions calling on our government to take urgent and meaningful action to conserve our marine life. They say they are listening and have already made world-leading commitments to marine conservation. But as industrial fishing vessels continue to ply our so-called marine protected areas, the government’s rhetoric is proving empty and cynical.
“It makes no sense to call something a protected area if you’re going to sit around and let huge fishing boats rampage through the seabed with their heavy gear. There is no good explanation for the government’s inaction. It’s baffling and frustrating, and completely undermines their claims to be world leaders in ocean protection. That’s why I fully support Greenpeace’s last rock barrier in the depths of the southwest. My name has been stenciled, for the second time, on a rock that now lies at the bottom of the sea, preventing bottom trawlers from continuing their path of destruction.
The 18 rocks are made of Portland limestone and each weigh between 500 kg and 1,400 kg. They make it impossible to drag towed fishing gear on the seabed. Artists from the Portland Sculpture and Quarry Trust have created a giant ammonite sculpture from one of the boulders, which will be placed on the seabed next to the others. The sculptors were inspired by ammonite fossils found in Portland limestone.
Neil Whitney, a fisherman from Newhaven in East Sussex, said of Greenpeace UK’s bouldering action: ‘Big industrial fishing boats can catch more in a day than I can catch all year. . They can wipe out entire ecosystems and if they cause one fishery to collapse, they simply move on to the next. Greenpeace seizes on the urgency, while leaders and policy makers simply twiddle their thumbs.
“Industrial fishing, like fly-shooters and super trawlers, is killing our marine environment, and small-scale UK fishermen like me are wasting a lot of time. Coastal communities are on their knees because fishermen have to leave the profession to which they have devoted their lives; there is almost nothing left to catch and no money to be made, despite all the promises politicians have made to us.
“I am a trawler and I know it is absurd that bottom trawling is legal in our marine protected areas. It’s like plowing a national park with a combine harvester. MPAs are meant to be the areas where fish stocks can recover, so that we have fish for generations to come. It’s a matter of common sense. »
Photograph courtesy of Greenpeace UK.
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