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February 18, 2022 2 min read

Did you know...Greenpeace are dropping boulders in the ocean to stop bottom trawling?!

What's bottom trawling?! 

Bottom trawling is a type of fishing that involves dragging heavy weighted nets across the seafloor in an effort to catch fish. Commercial fishing companies love this method because they are able to catch large quantities of fish in one go.

Why is it bad?

The problem with the bottom trawling method is that it has a huge bycatch impact (catching other species of marine life). Dragging large weighted nets across the seafloor means that everything living on the floor are caught (hello starfish, stingrays, shellfish, baby fish, deep sea corals and more) and the seafloor habitat is damaged on the way. This severely impacts the biodiversity and health of the ocean floor.

Unfortunately, this destruction all happens below the surface of the ocean, which means it is simply out of sight and out of mind for many. I honestly had no idea myself about how much danger our ocean is in until watching Seaspiracy, it completely shifted my mindset!

What is Greenpeace doing about it?

To combat this behaviour Greenpeace built their first boulder barrier in a Dogger Bank MPA in 2020 and followed with another in Offshore Brighton in 2021. Boulder Barriers stop destructive fishing from happening in Marine Protected Areas (MPA's) because trawlers risk damaging their fishing gear if it comes into contact with the boulders.

Greenpeace has safe guarded 55 square miles of the MPA! *legends*

Relevant marine authorities were notified so the boulders could be recorded and shown on marine charts so other ships can still safely navigate the area.

Who took Greenpeace to court over it?

Last year, the UK government's Marine Management Organisation (MMO) launched a private prosecution against Greenpeace due to the action it has been taking to protect the MPA's. The judge ruled on Jan 12th that the MMO are legally entitled to pursue their prosecution against Greenpeace, but the judge asked the MMO to review whether their case was in the public interest. The judge stated that it was 'absurd' that this litigation is happening in the first place considering both parties have the same goal of protecting the ocean!

On January 19th the MMO responded to the review saying they accept that their resources would be better directed to matters where the risk of ocean harm is higher. Hallelujah! 

So long story short, the MMO dropped the case and Greenpeace have encouraged them to up their game when it comes to ocean protection. The UK government is consulting on closing four MPAs to bottom trawling. *woot woot*


Image source: ⓒ Suzanne Plunkett / Greenpeace

We love hearing stories about organisations that are bold enough to spark change, well done to the legends at Greenpeace for protecting our oceans! Send this blog to your ocean loving bestie!

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