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Updated: 39 min 1 sec ago

Russian supertrawlers caught fishing in Special Area of Conservation

Thu, 2020-05-14 10:35

The 11 supertrawlers (accurate as of 12.5.2020) are all over 100m in length, and are believed to be catching blue whiting. The Special Area of Conservation is called the Wyville-Thomson Ridge SAC. 

The supertrawlers have all spent significant time since the end of April 2020, as shown by AIS tracking data (available on request), fishing in the Wyville-Thomson Ridge SAC. As of 12.05.2020, 11 supertrawlers are still fishing in UK waters inside and around the Special Area of Conservation, which was approved by the European Commission in September 2017. 

Chris Thorne, an Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said:

“While the UK is in lockdown, this fleet of destructive supertrawlers has been plundering fish from what is supposed to be a protected area in UK waters. The intensity with which these vast ships fish is not compatible with a healthy ocean. They drag vast nets, up to a mile long, in their wake hoovering up fish and other marine life and disturbing the entire water column.

“If the UK government wants to be taken seriously as a world leader in marine protection, it must do more to restrict and regulate the activities of the international supertrawler fleet, and support small scale, sustainable fishing communities.”

Fishing in the Special Area of Conservation is managed by the EU Common Fisheries Policy. The Wyville-Thomson Ridge protects a stony reef which “supports diverse biological communities representative of hard substratum in deep water” [2]. 

The supertrawlers [3] left port in the Faroe Islands in late April and early May 2020, and headed directly to UK waters to fish, starting on the 27th April 2020. 

The COVID19 pandemic has decimated the UK’s small scale, more sustainable fishing fleet. Demand for this fleet’s catch has disappeared, forcing most small scale UK fishers to remain tied up at port, unable to work. Throughout the lockdown, multinational owned supertrawlers have been fishing in UK waters in stark contrast to the UK’s small scale local fleet, which makes up 77% of the UK’s entire fleet.

Greenpeace UK is calling for fishing by supertrawlers (trawlers over 100m) to be banned from all UK Marine Protected Areas




 [2] According to the JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee) “The Wyville-Thomson Ridge is composed of extensive areas of stony reef interspersed with gravel areas and bedrock reef along its flanks, and supports diverse biological communities representative of hard substratum in deep water including a range of sponges; stylasterid, cup and soft corals; brachiopods; bryozoans; dense beds of featherstars and brittlestars; sea urchins, sea cucumbers and sea spiders. The stony reef is thought to have been formed by the ploughing movement of icebergs through the seabed at the end of the last ice age.”

 [3] The 11 Russia supertrawlers (accurate as of 12.5.2020) are as follows:

–      Kapitan Nazin
–      Karelia
–      Lira
–      Kapitan Demidenko
–      Boris Syromyatnikov
–      Kurshskaya Kosa
–      Yantarnyy
–      Kapitan Sulimov
–      Arctica
–      Baltiyskaya Kosa
–      Mekhanik S Agapo

The post Russian supertrawlers caught fishing in Special Area of Conservation appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

The court case that could spoil BP’s North Sea oil drilling plans

Tue, 2020-05-12 14:27

This story starts in August 2018, when the government granted BP permission to drill for new oil and gas in the North Sea’s Vorlich field, off the coast of Scotland. 

In this climate emergency, governments shouldn’t be allowing any new fossil fuel drilling, so Greenpeace activists blocked the oil rig on its way to the drilling site.

But granting this permit wasn’t just irresponsible. A court has ruled that it was unlawful too, and that’s a huge setback for BP. Let’s see how it all unfolded, and what comes next.

The Greenpeace protest against BP and rig operator Transocean

In June 2019, BP began to act on their permit. They hired a rig from Transocean, and starting to move it out to the Vorlich field. Greenpeace activists blocked the rig for 12 days, to protest against the drilling. 

Greenpeace climber Meena Rajput occupying the BP oil rig in Cromarty Firth, Scotland. © Greenpeace

BP’s rig operator, Transocean, took out a court interdict (the Scottish version of an injunction) against the activists. It ordered them to stop the protest, or face legal action. The activists continued the protest despite this, knowing it was their moral duty to block BP’s drilling and the climate destruction it would bring. 

Situations like this show why peaceful protests are so important. The government’s failure to publish the permit meant there was no opportunity to challenge it through the normal channels – but thanks to the Greenpeace activists, we were able to challenge it on the seas.

Following the protests, Greenpeace decided to take BP on in court. The aim was to force the government to publish the drilling permit. That would allow Greenpeace to launch a legal bid to get it completely cancelled. This in turn would mean BP would have to stop work in the Vorlich field.

A victory for Greenpeace! Now to get the permit cancelled

In April 2020, Greenpeace won. The government admitted it had acted unlawfully, and the court forced them to publish BP’s permits. 

The permits have now been published, which means Greenpeace has six weeks to launch the next legal case – a bid to get BP’s permit cancelled on climate change grounds. 

What happens next – and the bigger picture

Greenpeace lawyers will start preparing for our next challenge to BP’s drilling permit, hoping to quash it altogether. 

In this case, lawyers aren’t just challenging the process. They are saying that the government’s decision to issue the permit in the first place was wrong in law.

This is because, by granting BP permission to drill in the Vorlich field, the government failed to take into account the drilling would have on our climate (as there’s already more oil than we can afford to burn). The UK government is legally obliged to consider the impact of more oil drilling on the climate.

What would this mean for BP and Transocean?

If Greenpeace wins this case, it would stop BP in its tracks. 

It would also set a huge precedent – many other similar permits may be able to be challenged in the same way. 

These developments are especially important now. The oil industry is in turmoil, and more oil drilling is neither economically nor environmentally sustainable. 

Instead of offering climate-wrecking companies bailouts and permits for new drilling, the government should prioritise people and planet by beginning a just transition to renewable energy. 

The post The court case that could spoil BP’s North Sea oil drilling plans appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

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