Citizens' Body Calls for Action on
Sea Bottom Trawling
Gordon, Tel. 510/541-5334; [email protected]
Kramer, Tel. 415-399-8850 x 303; [email protected]
Cox, Tel: 415/399-8850 x302; [email protected]
There will be a telephone press conference on Wednesday,
March 17, 2004 , at 10 AM PST (9 AM Alaska Time) regarding the Statement
on Bottom Trawling. The telephone press conference will include
Whit Sheard of the Ocean Conservancy, David Gordon of Pacific Environment,
and other members of the International Bering Sea Forum. Interested
members of the media call 888/276-4201, participant code 96696.
photos of underwater corals near the Aleutian Islands are available
Francisco , CA - Bottom-trawling, often regarded as "aquatic
clear-cutting," is the subject of a statement
released this week by a coalition of citizen experts from around
the Bering Sea . The International Bering Sea Forum is calling for
additional scientific research into the impacts of bottom trawling
in the Bering, and to identify key habitat where bottom trawling
should be limited. In a statement being sent to lawmakers in the
U.S. and in Russia , the Forum details the need for intergovernmental
efforts among the U.S. and Russia to develop a system of zoning
in the Bering Sea that restricts bottom trawling in areas designated
as "sensitive habitat."
read the statement, click
trawling is a form of industrial fishing where heavy chains, nets
and steel plates are dragged across the ocean floor. The gear scoops
up large quantities of fish, while razing natural underwater structures
in its path, such as coral reefs and rock piles. According to some
estimates, bottom trawlers drag an area of the ocean as large as
the entirety of the world's continental shelves every two years.
Forum points to scientific evidence that current levels of bottom
trawling activity in the Bering Sea are "harmful to marine life"
and argues that the "intensity of trawling will impact future marine
life and habitat due to long term significant damage to those habitats."
Sheard, a member of the Forum and a Program Manager at the Ocean
Conservancy, commented, "Bottom trawling is destroying the underwater
equivalent of the Amazon Rainforest. Coral reefs, and the fish that
thrive in them, are an essential element in sustaining life in the
Bering, and everywhere else."
members express concern that the Bering Sea , a globally important
habitat for marine life and an important fishery, is experiencing
significant ecological changes that are of concern to many Bering
Sea residents and scientists internationally. Simultaneously, Forum
members point out that indigenous peoples and local communities
in Russia and the United States are dependent upon the ecological
well-being and the stability of resources in the Bering Sea for
their health, quality of life, sustainable livelihoods and cultures.
Forum's statement follows the release of a major report released
last February that details the global impacts of bottom trawling.
The report, "High
Seas Bottom Fisheries and Their Impact on the Biodiversity of Vulnerable
Deep-Sea Ecosystems," co-published by WWF, NRDC, and the World
Conservation Union, details how the practice poses significant risks
to marine biodiversity, including species extinction. The Forum's
Bottom Trawling Statement focuses on the Bering Sea , one of the
world's most important marine habitats, which supplies the U.S.
with over 50 per cent of its seafood.
Bering Sea , which lies between Alaska and the Russian Far East,
is largely in U.S. and Russian territorial waters. Although the
Bering is a single marine environment, the two countries fail to
coordinate the management of the sea. Forum members emphasize the
need for international cooperation and have made it a priority to
influence their respective governments to take common approaches
to managing the Bering.
many fisheries worldwide collapsing due to overfishing and pollution,
the Bering Sea remains one of the last relatively robust marine
habitats in the world. However, Forum members point out that the
Bering is showing signs of strain, as more fishing fleets with more
sophisticated and destructive gear are chasing fewer fish.
International Bering Sea Forum, founded in August 2003, is an independent,
non-governmental body of scientists, indigenous leaders, environmentalists,
and family fishermen from both the U.S. and Russia committed to
sustainable management of the Bering Sea . The Forum was founded
in the belief that the Bering Sea is a global treasure, and that
international cooperation is crucial to head off a number of threats,
including overfishing, poaching, global warming, and pollution.
International Bering Sea Forum is coordinated by Pacific Environment,
a non-governmental organization based in San Francisco , California
that protects the living environment of the Pacific Rim .
read the statement, click
more information, see www.beringseaforum.org