Wednesday, June 21, 2006
IN DEFENSE OF THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA
Over ten thousand species live in the Mediterranean Sea, representing eight to nine percent of the world’s marine biodiversity whilst taking up only 0.7 percent of the marine area. Many species are found nowhere else – at least one in four is unique to the Mediterranean and some like the monk seal, green turtle and leatherback turtle are critically endangered.
The Mediterranean Seas resources are under pressure from a variety of threats. Amongst them are overfishing, drift netting, aquaculture, alien species, pollution, drilling for oil and gas, dredging, commercial shipping, climate change, tourism and population increases.
Greenpeace says immediate action is needed to save the Mediterranean Sea. What is needed is a network of fully protected, large-scale marine reserves to cover the range of Mediterranean marine ecosystems – the equivalent to national parks on land.
The group and its allies have launced the Defending Our Mediterranean campaign in an effort to save the Sea.
The first article below is fromItaly Magazine. The second is from ANSA.
Greenpeace and Grillo join forces to protect Mediterranean
Greenpeace teamed up with cult Italian comedian and environmental activist Beppe Grillo on Thursday to launch a campaign to protect the Mediterranean Sea and prevent destructive overfishing.
Grillo, who was named one of Time magazine’s European heroes for 2005, joined the international environmental organisation on its flagship Rainbow Warrior docked in the port of Genoa. Together, they called for 32 marine reserves to be set up in international waters in the Mediterranean where all fishing would be banned.
In sounding the alarm over the damage inflicted by overfishing, Greenpeace stressed that the Mediterranean’s bluefish and red tuna populations had fallen by 80% over the past 20 years. It also condemned the continued use of drift-nets, which were banned by the European Union in 2002. The nets, which can be as long as eight kilometres, are blamed for causing widespread damage to sea life.
Dubbed the “walls of death” by critics, the nets are left to drift at sea entangling everything that swims into them, including non-targeted fish, dolphins, whales and sea turtles which die as a result. Before the 2002 ban, up to 8,000 dolphins died every year from being caught in the nets. Alessandro Gianni’, head of Greenpeace’s Sea Campaign for Italy, said that the “worst illegal fishing practices” continued unabated in the Mediterranean.
“In Italy, in order to confiscate drift-nets, the law states that you have to catch the fishermen using them. “But they fish at night, in high seas, dozens of kilometres from the coast. That means it would cost millions of euros to carry out the necessary inspections when instead it would cost nothing and be more effective for checks to be allowed in the harbours,” he said.
“We want fishermen to continue to work using past traditions and innovative techniques but in a fair and sustainable way. We don’t think this is possible without protected areas,” Gianni said. He said that nine of the 32 marine reserves proposed by Greenpeace would affect Italian fishermen.
In undescoring the need to protect the Mediterranean, Gianni’ said that although it accounted for less than 1% of the world’s body of sea water, it was host to 9% of the globe’s marine life. Karli Thomas of Greenpeace International said that “with
a network of marine reserves, everyone benefits. The number of marine species grows, fish stocks in and around the reserves are regenerated and both commercial and conservationist interests are satisfied”.
The Rainbow Warrior will tour the Mediterranean for the next three months trying to muster support for the marine reserve proposal, with stops planned in other Italian ports, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and Israel. Grillo gave his backing to the campaign saying that “the problem here again is that everyone knows what’s happening but they all pretend nothing is wrong”.
“It’s just like the soccer,” said the irrepressible 58-year-old comic referring to Italy’s match-fixing scandal. In October 2005, Grillo was named a European hero by America’s Time magazine, which praised him for carrying his work from apolitical stand-up comedian to denunciation-by-humour.
Describing the burly Genoa native as a cross between John Belushi and French environmental activist Jose’ Bove, Time dubbed him “that rare class clown who has done his homework”.
Grillo’s sell-out shows on shady politics, environmental perils and commercial scandals have brought his message home to Italians despite being barred by state and private terrestrial TV since the Craxi jibe, the magazine said. Grillo’s Internet blog site in Italian and English, where the comic writes one topic a day, is one of the top world blogs in terms of the number of daily links.
Fishermen lashed over banned nets
Rome, June 21 - Environmental groups joined forces on Wednesday in condemning the continued use of banned drift nets by Italian fishermen .
The Italian branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Greenpeace and Italy's Legambiente all called for tougher penalties for those caught breaking the ban after the environment ministry revealed that 400 kilometres of drift nets had been seized since the start of the year .
The ministry said that inspections carried out in the ports of Naples, Palermo and Reggio Calabria led to the confiscation of 50 kilometres of drift nets on Tuesday night alone .
Eight fishing vessels were impounded during the operation and their owners reported, the ministry said .
Italy's new Environment Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio subsequently said the government would clamp down on the phenomenon with stepped-up controls and sanctions .
"The scale of illegal fishing going on, particularly in the seas between lower Campania and Calabria, has reached alarming proportions," said the minister, who heads the Green party .
Drift nets, which can be up to 20 kilometres long and 30 kilometres wide, are blamed for causing widespread damage to sea life and were banned by the European Union in 2002 .
Dubbed the "walls of death" by critics, the nets are left to drift at sea entangling everything that swims into them, including non-targeted fish, dolphins, whales and sea turtles which die as a result .
Before the 2002 ban, up to 8,000 dolphins died every year from being caught in the nets .
WWF Italy said on Wednesday that up to 80% of the catch yielded by drift nets had to be thrown away .
The association appealed to Italian fishing associations to "act more responsibly" and help the authorities in catching the lawbreakers .
Legambiente said the situation was "drastic", noting that 800 kilometres of nets had been confiscated in 2005 .
Greenpeace called for more inspections to be carried out in Italian ports and harbours .
Alessandro Gianni', head of Greenpeace's Sea Campaign for Italy, said: "In Italy, the law states that you have to catch the fishermen actually using the drift nets .
"But they fish at night, in high seas, dozens of kilometres from the coast. That means it would cost millions of euros to carry out the necessary inspections when instead it would cost nothing and be more effective for checks to be allowed in the harbours" .
Earlier this month, Greenpeace launched a campaign aimed at protecting the Mediterranean Sea and preventing destructive overfishing .
The organisation is calling for 32 marine reserves to be set up in international waters in the Mediterranean where all fishing would be banned .
In sounding the alarm over the damage inflicted by overfishing, Greenpeace stressed that the Mediterranean's bluefish and red tuna populations had fallen by 80% over the past 20 years .
Greenpeace's flagship Rainbow Warrior will tour the Mediterranean for the next three months trying to muster support for the marine reserve proposal, with stops planned in other Italian ports, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and Israel .