Greenpeace Bering Sea Expedition Begins

    WASHINGTON, June 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Greenpeace ship
 Esperanza arrived in Homer, Alaska to begin the group's ambitious research
 and outreach expedition into the Bering Sea, the same waters where
 Greenpeace's very first protest took place nearly 36 years ago. The
 international environmental group will spend two months this summer in the
 Bering, conducting scientific surveys of underwater canyons and working
 with native Alaskan communities to push for sustainable fishing practices
 in the area. By utilizing state-of-the-art technology to observe coral,
 sponges and hopefully discover new species, and through gaining the support
 of native communities, Greenpeace will push for greater protection of the
 Bering waters.
     "This ambitious expedition will take Greenpeace right back to its
 roots," said John Hocevar, senior oceans specialist with Greenpeace.
 "Thirty six years later, we are still committed to necessary solutions to
 problems facing our environment, using creative means and modern technology
 to defend our oceans for the benefit of future generations," he added.
     The Bering Sea hangs in the balance, due to harmful fishing practices
 such as bottom-trawling and a single-species management approach that fails
 to consider the impact of removing billions of pounds of fish on the rest
 of the ecosystem. Populations of many commercially important fish and crabs
 have begun to decline, putting the other creatures, and sadly the people
 who depend upon fishing for subsistence and livelihood, at risk. Building
 on work undertaken last summer, Greenpeace will work with Alaska native
 communities along the Bering to create "Marine Cultural Heritage Zones
 (MHZs)," areas which give fishing dependent communities the ability to
 ensure that their traditional and subsistence needs will be met. The future
 of many native cultures and traditions is dependent on the continued health
 of the Bering, and the creation of MHZs can help to ensure both.
     Greenpeace will also conduct groundbreaking scientific research into
 the unexplored underwater canyons of the Bering Sea. With the help of
 submarines, the Greenpeace team will be the first humans to observe
 firsthand the marine life that exists in two submarine canyons, Zhemchug
 and Pribilof. As the home of many corals and sponges, and potentially
 undiscovered life, Zhemchug and Pribilof, which are larger than Arizona's
 Grand Canyon, will offer insight into the rich biodiversity of the Bering
 and help assess the effects of industrial fishing on these unique areas. A
 provision in the recently re- authorized Magnuson-Stevens Act mandates
 protection of coral habitats. Greenpeace will lead the research into the
 canyons' coral assemblages in order to expedite this process for policy
 makers.
     "This expedition, the latest effort by Greenpeace to defend our oceans,
 will combine the best technology with efforts to reach out to the people
 most affected by the continued neglect of the Bering environment," said
 George Pletnikoff, Greenpeace oceans campaigner. "This is an exciting
 chance for Greenpeace to lead efforts to leave behind a healthy Bering for
 future generations, and another step towards taking an ecosystem-based
 approach to fisheries management here in the United States," he concluded.
     For more information, please visit:
 http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/campaigns/oceans/bering-sea-tour-2007
     For detailed fact sheets about the expedition, visit:
 http://usaphoto.greenpeace.org/beringsea2007
 
 

SOURCE Greenpeace

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