AMSTERDAM - August 8 - Greenpeace swimmers with flares and
a buoy reading "stop deep sea destruction" clung to the bow of the
Estonian flagged bottom trawler Lootus II in the foggy Northwest
Atlantic protesting what is happening out of sight in international
waters. Greenpeace is calling on governments to take action to stop the
destruction of deep-sea life by bottom trawlers, particularly operators
such as the Lootus II.
The Greenpeace ship Esperanza has been observing the Lootus II for 30
hours, 18 of which she has been bottom trawling continuously, which is
highly irregular. Greenpeace suspects that they are refusing to haul in
their nets because they are being watched.
"It's a scandal that this boat is even permitted to bottom trawl here or
anywhere. Not only does the Lootus II have an appalling record of
breaking the rules here in the Northwest Atlantic, but its owners are
connected with the illegal fishing of Patagonian toothfish in the
Southern Ocean," said Bunny McDiarmid on board the Esperanza.
The Lootus II has been cited seven times since 2000 for breaking NAFO
(1) rules (2). The Estonian Company MFV Lootus OU is the registered
owner of the Lootus II. In 2004 the Spanish company Grupo Oya Perez,
through one of its subsidiaries became a shareholder of the Estonian
company. Grupo Oya Perez is the owner of the notorious pirate Patagonian
toothfish vessel, the Ross (3).
Greenpeace is calling on Estonia and Spain to explain why it is allowing
vessels, owned by a company with a criminal fishing history to continue
fishing in the Northwest Atlantic management area also known as NAFO.
In 2003 and in 2004, the EU delegation to the NAFO meeting included
three members from Grupo Oya Perez. The EU and NAFO must be aware that
this company's fishing vessels have been involved in illegal toothfish
fishing in southern waters, but despite this they are invited to
participate in NAFO decisions on fisheries conservation matters and
measures to deter Illegal, Unregulated and Unreporting (IUU) operations.
"The Lootus II is the worst example of NAFO not working. Allowing IUU
operators to sit at the table making decisions about fisheries
management that their vessels will then simply ignore is like inviting
the wolf into the chicken house", added McDiarmid.
The Esperanza is in the NAFO area to highlight the destructive impact of
bottom trawling in support of the call by more than 1,100 marine
scientists and environmental organisations for a UN moratorium on
high-seas bottom trawling. The Esperanza has observed 20 boats bottom
trawling in the area from Japan, Spain, Estonia, Latvia, Canada,
Lithuania, Iceland and Portugal and documented a number of these during
their trawling and hauling operations. The next meeting of NAFO parties
will take place in September 2005 in Tallinn, Estonia.
1. Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) is a regional body
designed to manage the fishing in international waters off the coast of
2. The Lootus II has been cited seven times since 2000 for NAFO
violations including fishing for species under moratoria and exceeding
by-catch regulations. The latest citation was December 2004.
3. The Ross under a variety of names has been photographed illegally
fishing for toothfish in the sub Antarctic in 2003 and again in 2005
fishing in an area closed to fishing by CCAMLR (The Convention on the
Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources). The Ross is also on
Norway's blacklist of fishing vessels.
4. Citizens can participate in an online alert urging decision makers to
support a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling at
5. For details of the tour and to follow the Esperanza's diary visit: http://weblog.greenpeace.org/deepsea.