Canada Fights Ban on “Bulldozers of the Sea”

By Stephen Leahy

Oct 12 (IPS) – Canada is trying to scuttle a proposed United Nations moratorium on destructive bottom trawling of the open ocean that has received surprisingly strong support from the United States, as well as other countries.

“Canada’s attitude towards the oceans is embarrassing and archaic,” said Elliott Norse, president of the Marine Conservation Biology Institute, a scientific environmental group in Washington State.

“Canada treats the oceans as if nothing could harm them,” Norse told IPS.

The U.N. General Assembly started debate this week on an Australian-led plan for a temporary moratorium on deep-sea bottom trawling in unmanaged high seas and to impose tougher regulation of other destructive fishing practices.

Because of Canada’s good international reputation, other nations are listening and that greatly increases the risks the U.N. will not act on the proposed moratorium, Norse said.

Canada’s opposition, especially from a recently elected government, comes as a surprise.

“Canada doesn’t have any open ocean trawlers and has everything to gain from a ban,” Norse pointed out.


Related stories by Stephen Leahy

Trawling seamounts threatens ocean’s biodiversity
Hundreds of deep-sea species new to science are disappearing before they can be identified or studied, oceanographers are warning. The organisms are being pushed to extinction by trawlers targeting undersea volcanic mountains called seamounts. — New Scientist Magazine

A Plan to Torpedo the Trawlers
Environmentalist groups will soon be dragging deep-sea trawl nets the size of Boeing 747s across cities, rolling out ad campaigns featuring photos of unique creatures from the ocean’s depths, and sending out ships to dog the movements of ocean-going trawlers. — Wired News

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