Greenpeace explores underwater canyons, calls for their protection

Date: July 12, 2012

Source: Greenpeace

Author: John Hocevar

Greenpeace has returned to the world’s largest underwater canyons, here in the Bering Sea, to continue our efforts to protect these amazing ecosystems.

These corals, sponges, and other marine life are currently unprotected, and could be destroyed by enormous trawl nets dragged through Zhemchug Canyon.

Today, factory trawl ships pull up over a million tons of fish here each year and their enormous nets scrape along the seafloor, destroying coral habitats in these submarine canyons that are critical for fish, crabs and other marine life.

After years of Greenpeace and others calling for their protection, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council declined once again in 2006 to protect these canyons, saying there wasn’t enough information available about the canyons to justify action.

We are not very good at taking no for an answer when it comes to defending the planet, so we took the Council’s decision as a challenge. In 2007, we set out with the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, along with two small submarines, to explore the canyons and provide the council with the data it said was missing.

Our findings, which were published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, helped persuade the council to reconsider. We documented 15 species of deep sea corals in the canyons, in higher densities found almost anywhere else in the world.

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