Greenpeace dumps boulders in MPA to discourage trawling

Greenpeace activists in August placed more than 300 large granite stones in an MPA in the German EEZ of the North Sea in an attempt to discourage bottom trawling activity there. Each boulder, weighing 2-3 metric tons, was dropped from a chartered ship in the region of Sylt Outer Reef, designated four years ago as a Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive ( Bottom trawling is not regulated under the site’s current rules. Greenpeace wants the European Commission (which sets EU fishing policy) to ban the practice there, and also seeks restrictions on other bottom-impacting activities on site, like sand and gravel extraction.

The German government called the action by Greenpeace illegal, and placed an injunction on the organization. The injunction requires Greenpeace to stop the action, with the threat of prosecution if it continues. The owner of the chartered ship also received an injunction for delivering the stones for Greenpeace.

Iris Menn, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace Germany, says that without protections against trawling and mining, the Sylt Outer Reef is just a paper park. “We need the Sylt Outer Reef to truly be protected,” she says. “Greenpeace is fully aware of the environmental laws governing placement of materials in the marine environment, and would not have engaged in any activity contrary to the aims of those laws in relation to environmental protection. Rather, in placing the rocks, we are seeking to uphold additional laws to which all EU Member States, including Germany, are bound, such as the requirement under the Habitats Directive to protect Natura 2000 sites and prevent any deterioration in their ecological status.” The Greenpeace press release is at A video of the action is on YouTube at

Data published by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, which coordinates marine research in the North Atlantic, indicate fishing vessels from several countries trawl on the Sylt Outer Reef. Henning von Nordheim of Germany’s Agency for the Protection of Nature said the action by Greenpeace created no significant environmental damage in itself since the limited number of stones were made of the same material as the natural reefs of the site. He added, however, that the action would strain ongoing talks among the German government, fishing groups, and EU fishing authorities to establish restrictions on various destructive fishing practices, including trawling.

The German Fishing Association has denied that German fishermen use nets in the area of Sylt Outer Reef, and says the rocks could endanger fishing vessels if gear should snag on them. “We believe what Greenpeace has done risks the lives of fishermen,” said Peter Breckling, general secretary of the fishing industry group.

For more information:

Iris Menn, Greenpeace Germany. E-mail:

Henning von Nordheim, Federal Agency for Nature (BfN), Germany. E-mail:

Peter Breckling, German Fishing Association. E-mail:

Annual report released for LMMA Network

The 2007 annual report of the Locally-Managed Marine Area (LMMA) Network is now available online at The LMMA Network consists of practitioners involved in community-based marine conservation throughout the Indo-Pacific region who have joined together to share lessons and best practices (“Building ‘Learning Networks’ Among MPAs”, MPA News 5:8). The report describes the network’s activities and progress over the past year, and presents ideas for moving forward. Since the launch of the project eight years ago, more than 5000 people in the region have attended LMMA training workshops as part of the initiative.

Report card released on MPAs in Canada

Three Canadian NGOs have co-produced a report card grading their country’s implementation of MPAs in comparison to Australia and the U.S. The Living Oceans Society, David Suzuki Foundation, and Sierra Club British Columbia conclude Canada is lagging behind its peer nations in terms of the percentage of waters set aside in MPAs and the amount of funding provided for MPA implementation. Canada has approximately 26,000 km2 set aside in federal MPAs, equal to 0.5% of the nation’s waters. The report card is available at

U.S. MPA advisory committee seeks nominations

The U.S. Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee (MPA FAC) is seeking new members to fill approximately 15 vacancies for early 2010. The MPA FAC advises the Departments of Commerce and the Interior on the development and implementation of a national system of MPAs. Nominations for natural and social scientists; state and territorial resource managers; cultural resource experts; and representatives of ocean industry, commercial and recreational fishing, and environmental organizations are sought by 30 November 2008. For more information, go to

Assistance available for families of murdered park rangers

The Thin Green Line Foundation (TGLF), an Australian NGO that provides financial assistance to the families of park rangers worldwide who have been killed in the line of duty, has announced a partnership to raise awareness of the organization’s work. Under terms announced at the World Conservation Congress this month, the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas and the International Ranger Federation will work jointly with TGLF to publicize the latter organization’s work and attract funding for it.

“It’s the start of an important partnership that we need to make work for the sake of rangers, conservation, and the communities around parks,” says Sean Willmore, director of TGLF. His organization is also launching small-scale community development projects in which rangers will work with local communities to reduce pressures on park resources.

For more information: Sean Willmore, TGLF, Australia. E-mail:; Web: