ITALY - June 23 - Greenpeace activists aboard the Rainbow Warrior early this morning confronted Italian fishing pirates in the Mediterranean sea, some 65 kilometres south of the Italian island of Ponza, confiscating a section of the 8 kilometre long and 12 metre deep driftnet from the Italian vessel, which was being illegally used to catch a dwindling stock of swordfish. A sea turtle caught up in the nets was cut loose by the activists and released back into the sea.
The fishing pirates were using a fishing practice that has long been
banned by the United Nations and the European Union because it also
traps and kills thousands of whales, dolphins and turtles each year in
the Mediterranean. (1). Every night at this time of year these fishing
pirates have cast enough driftnets to span the length of the
Mediterranean and back again.
"Driftnets are walls of death, and their use is flagrant piracy," said
Alessandro Gianni aboard the Rainbow Warrior. "Greenpeace continues to
expose the offenders, but let's be clear - the responsibility to
enforce the driftnets ban and punish these villains lies with the
Italian government and the European Union. It is scandalous that for
years Mediterranean governments have continued to condone piracy, when
the law has given them a mandate to protect the Mediterranean Sea."
The Rainbow Warrior left Genoa this week on the first leg of its
three-month Defending Our Mediterranean tour of 7 countries. (2) The
Greenpeace ship Esperanza has also just completed a three-week tour of
the Mediterranean, part of the global expedition Defending Our Oceans.
Greenpeace is calling for the establishment of a network of marine
reserves covering 40% of the sea to protect threatened marine life,
replenish the sea's fish stocks and conserve the beauty and
productivity of the Mediterranean. (4)
"All the countries of the Mediterranean from Africa, Asia and Europe
need to take a united stand on our sea - to stop illegal fishing and
protect this shared resource. The livelihood of millions of people
depends upon it," said Sofia Tsenikli of Greenpeace Greece aboard the
Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation that uses
non-violent creative confrontation to expose global environmental
problems to drive solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful
Notes to Editor
(1) In the 1990's it was estimated that 8 to 29 cetaceans were caught for every 100 casts in the Italian fishery, which gave rise to annual estimates of over 8,000 cetaceans being trapped every year. See Di Natale A. & G. Notarbartolo di Sciara (1994). A review of the passive fishing nets and trap fisheries in the Mediterranean Sea and of cetacean by catch. International Whaling Commission Report, Special Issue 15:189-202.
(2) Defending Our Mediterranean is a voyage to document the threats to the Mediterranean Sea, and propose our vision for the future: a network of properly enforced marine reserves for 40% of the Mediterranean Sea. The Rainbow Warrior will visit Italy, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, France and Spain during the tour.
(3) Defending Our Oceans is a 14-month global expedition, and is the most ambitious ship expedition ever undertaken by Greenpeace. So far, the expedition has exposed the threats to the oceans such as whaling in the Southern Ocean and pirate fishing in West Africa, and documented the beauty of deep sea habitats around the Azores. In the Mediterranean, the Esperanza has documented the devastating impacts of overfishing on the survival of bluefin tuna.
(4) See "Marine Reserves for the Mediterranean Sea" Greenpeace, June 2006.
Report available at www.oceans.greenpeace.org/med-marine-reserves-report
Summary report at www.oceans.greenpeace.org/med-marine-reserves-summary