Guest blog by Pavel Petrov, a volunteer mate from Bulgaria onboard the Greenpeace ship Esperanza.
We are on a mission to document and explore the world’s largest underwater canyons here in the Bering Sea. While we were watching the submarine resurface from a dive we witnessed the very reason why we are here. We saw hundreds of birds waiting for the easy prey. However, we are not the industrial fishing trawler discarding a massive amount of dead fish that the birds thought we were.
These days many birds have lost their hunting capabilities because it is easier to stay around the many fishing vessels roaming the seas just waiting for feeding opportunities. For thousands of years human beings have being catching fish in balance with nature, but these days birds change their habits and quickly surround every stopped vessel in hope for an easy meal.
When I worked for the Institute Of Oceanology in Varna, Bulgaria, on board of R/V “Akademik,” I took part in research expeditions in the Black Sea. I saw how delicate the relationship between air and sea fauna is. For instance, because of the lack of fish in the Black Sea the seagulls migrate 500 km deep into dry land and settle near big cities where there is plenty of food garbage.
Industrial factory trawlers pose a great danger to the marine live in the Bering Sea. Their huge nets scrape along the seabed, destroying corals and other types of habitats, home and shelter of many sea creatures. These plants and animals are the very cornerstone of the seas ecosystem – they are in the middle of the food chain. However, much of the marine life is then thrown overboard as waste and quickly scooped up by the waiting birds. Depleting our marine resources by trawling causes an alteration in bird populations and disrupts the balance between air and sea fauna.
But we are on a research mission, not trawling for fish, and today we disappointed many birds. They’ll have to live with it because protecting the Zhemchug and Pribilof deepwater canyons and the Bering Sea ecosystem is important. Only thoroughly scientific research can give us direction on how to do this in a right way. And that is why we are here in the Bering Sea.
Later on we continue our expedition into the Arctic. Hopefully we can collect better knowledge and thus establish protection for the waters of the Chukchi Sea before industrial fishing moves in. You can take action too at www.savethearctic.com