Greenpeace has today completed its boulder barrier to prevent destructive bottom trawling in part of the North Sea. Activists on board the Greenpeace ship Esperanza deployed the final two boulders, worked into full stops by artist Fiona Banner aka The Vanity Press, in the new bottom trawler exclusion zone. This has placed 47 square miles of the Dogger Bank protected area off limits to all destructive bottom trawling.
This comes after an Oceana analysis, revealed today in The Guardian, found that 97% of the UK’s marine protected areas are being bottom trawled, despite most being set up specifically to protect the seabed. This follows a Greenpeace analysis which found that supertrawlers have doubled their time fishing in UK protected areas every year since 2017.
Greenpeace was forced to take action to protect the Dogger Bank after documenting extensive illegal AIS dark bottom trawling taking place in the area. No action has been taken by the UK Government against these vessels operating illegally since this was revealed. The UK Government has given no credible commitments to properly protect the Dogger Bank from destructive bottom trawling, despite having renewed powers.
Chris Thorne, a Greenpeace oceans campaigner on board Esperanza, said, “Time and time again, we hear the same tired rhetoric about ‘taking back control’ and being able to properly protect our seas from our Government. When will these hollow, empty words turn into action?
“Our departure from the Common Fisheries Policy, and the opportunity to properly protect our seas, is now just a couple of months away. But still our Government prefers to make vague statements instead of an actual policy announcement, which they could do today. We fear this will continue to be the case after we leave, and that Greenpeace will be forced to return and continue protecting our seas while our Government sits idly by.
“The Dogger Bank underpins the entire North Sea’s ecosystem, and we are proud to have protected as much of it as we have been able to this month, but this is just the start. We will be back to properly protect our oceans soon unless the UK Government turns empty words into action.”
The installation, created by Turner Prize nominated artist Fiona Banner aka The Vanity Press, features three sculptural full stops, made from inert granite, which form an ellipsis. Two of the three full stops have been placed in the Dogger Bank by Greenpeace activists on board the Esperanza, while one was placed outside DEFRA on the 5th October 2020.
Fiona Banner added, “The full stop sculptures are symbols of language on the precipice, blown-up, made physical and confrontational, they symbolise an impasse and crisis in language. They are agents for change… for squid not quid! Seventy percent of the planet is ocean, it is our most critical ally in the fight against climate change. The seabed is invisible to us, if we could see what is being done to it there is no way we would allow it. The Full stops will exist on the bottom of the sea, forming part of a barrier to bottom trawling. The sea bed is the bottom line.”
Greenpeace informed all nearby marine traffic of the deployment of the boulders, and provided precise locations of each boulder to the relevant marine authorities. The boulders pose no safety threat to mariners in the area.