Greenpeace call for Mediterranean reserves

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Marine life in the Mediterranean is in danger of being wiped out unless 40% of the sea is protected by reserves, says a new Greenpeace report.

The report, “Marine Reserves for the Mediterranean Sea” highlights the threats facing the Mediterranean and maps out in detail a proposed network of marine reserves to be implemented by 2012.

“The Mediterranean, while only representing 1% of the world’s seas, is a biodiversity and commercial hotspot: home to 9% of the world’s marine life; 30% of the world’s shipping trade and the world’s most popular tourist region. ” said Alessandro Gianni of Greenpeace Italy aboard the organisation’s flagship the Rainbow Warrior.

“It is also home to some of the worst excesses of both over fishing and illegal fishing in the world; something has to give. Unless immediate action is taken now to protect the sea’s beauty and abundance, the livelihoods of millions of people in the region who depend on it will fast become a thing of the past.”

The report, “Marine Reserves for the Mediterranean Sea” concludes that: Over fishing of species such as the bluefin tuna is rampant, leading to a decline of 80% in stocks; banned fishing practices like drift netting are still being carried out on a massive scale, not only wiping out commercial fish stocks, but at the same time killing species like dolphins and whales; pollution from tourism, over development and commercial trade are major threats to the Mediterranean.

“A global network of marine reserves is vital to ensure the health of our oceans and survival of the spectacular marine life they harbour.” said Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Conservation Biology at the University of York.

“Greenpeace’s proposal for a network in the Mediterranean would help ensure the recovery of depleted and degraded ecosystems there and complements our proposal for a high seas network.”

Greenpeace is calling on the countries of the Mediterranean to protect their own sea with a network of marine reserves and live up to their political commitments.

“The implementation of marine reserves elsewhere around the world has produced win-win outcomes.” said Karli Thomas of Greenpeace International

“The number of species increases, populations regenerate and, with proper and legally enforced management of the fish stocks outside the reserves, both commercial and conservation interests can be met.” she concluded.

The Rainbow Warrior is in Genoa on the first stop of its 3 month “Defending Our Mediterranean” tour of Italy, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, France and Spain.

Last week the Rainbow Warrior briefly met the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, also in the Mediterranean Sea on the 4th leg of its 14 month Defending Our Oceans Expedition, the most ambitious ever undertaken by the organisation.