Ocean conservancy group Greenpeace is tackling the issue of protecting our marine life in a unique way. In order to prevent the harmful effects of trawling, this group is placing boulders in vulnerable areas to inhibit the practice.
So what is trawling? Why does it need to be stopped? And how is Greenpeace making a difference?
Keep reading to find out more!
What is Trawling?
So, what exactly is trawling? Trawling is a technique used by fisheries to catch large amounts of fish at once.
Trawling involves the use of a net that is pulled from the back of a boat through the ocean. Though trawling is sometimes used in the mid-ocean, it is often used on the seafloor.
This is known as bottom trawling and it is quite dangerous for marine life. Specifically, bottom trawling can stir up the sediments on the ocean floor, which can put some species at risk.
Despite the problems trawling can cause for specific fish species, many marine species are threatened by this practice. Precisely, because trawling uses a large net, the net will capture anything in its path.
Now that we know why trawling is so dangerous, let’s talk about what Greenpeace is doing to stop it. Starting in late February, the group began to work on an unannounced project.
Due to the negligence of the government to monitor the proclaimed protected areas of the ocean, Greenpeace decided it was time to step in.
Specifically, the group noticed the issue of trawling in the Offshore Brighton Marine Protected Area, off the coast of Sussex.
Though the area was declared as protected in 2016, it seems the lives of many sea animals including dolphins, porpoises, fish, seals, and many others are still at risk.
This is because the government has not put any restrictions on industrial fishing in this area. According to Greenpeace, it is one of the most heavily trawled areas as a result.
In response to this gross negligence, Greenpeace began to build their boulder barrier. This barrier is exactly what it sounds like, one made of boulders.
However, the group made sure to do their due diligence before placing foreign objects in a fragile ecosystem – whether they are natural or not.
Specifically, Greenpeace chose to use granite boulders for their barrier. This is because the material doesn’t interact with the water. In other words, it won’t put animals in danger.
Further, through the help of a scientific agency, the group made sure the boulders would not pose a risk to the seabed either.
The group said the boulders are strategically placed along the seabed in this vulnerable area of the ocean. Moreover, the boulders were not only placed strategically, but in a specific pattern to protect the area.
Interestingly, the boulders even have the names of Greenpeace supporters painted on them – with non-toxic pain of course.
Covering 55 miles of sea, the boulders are meant to discourage industrial fisheries from trawling here.
As trawling involves using a net, the boulders pose a threat to this fishing gear as it could tear or destroy it.
Greenpeace is hoping that knowing this, fisheries will avoid the area so as to not take the risk of ruining their equipment.
Though the project was originally started covertly, the group made sure to notify the Marine and Coastguard Agency of where the boulders were placed.
This way, the barrier can be accurately charted on maps to ensure that other boats can get through the area without issue.
Despite their distaste for industrial fishing and bottom trawling, Greenpeace said they want to make it clear that they do support small-scale sustainable fishing.
This is because these fisheries catch lower numbers of fish at a time and catch a variety of species. In other words, these practices don’t dramatically alter the populations of one species, putting it at risk.
Though Offshore Brighton Marine Protected Area is certainly one of the most vulnerable areas to trawling, Greenpeace said many other protected areas in UK waters are not, in fact, protected.
Greenpeace said they’re disappointed by the lack of action the government has taken to ban trawling since leaving the EU.
However, the group remains hopeful because of their past work. Believe it or not, Greenpeace built another boulder barrier in 2020.
More specifically, the barrier was built in Dogger Bank in the North Sea. As a result of their actions, soon after, the government banned bottom trawling completely in Dogger Bank and South Dorset, two marine protected areas.
Although the majority of the marine protected areas in the waters surrounding the UK remain vulnerable to this dangerous fishing practice, Greenpeace is hoping to see this change soon.
In fact, Greenpeace is urging the government to ban trawling completely from all marine protected areas immediately.
Overall, it is clear that this group is not giving up anytime soon, and will do whatever it takes to reach their goal.
If you are interested in being a part of Greenpeace’s fight against trawling, you can help by signing their petitions or donating.