Greenpeace will fly its thermal airship over the Seattle area all week with a 75 foot whale-themed banner urging Washington residents to help protect the “Grand Canyons of the Sea.”
Greenpeace and Mission Blue will host an “Evening of Hope” at the Seattle Aquarium to celebrate Alaska’s Bering Sea, a unique ecosystem currently threatened by a billion dollar fishing industry.
Renowned oceanographer, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, and Mission Blue Co-Founder Dr. Sylvia Earle will join Greenpeace Executive Director Phil Radford at the Aquarium to celebrate the canyons, which are over a mile and a half deep and home to fish, crab, skates, endangered sea lions, orcas, and humpback whales.
“I’m thrilled to join Greenpeace and the Seattle Aquarium in sharing my love for Alaska’s Bering Sea with the people of the Pacific Northwest, and hopefully together we can protect this amazing area,” Dr. Earle said. “The Bering Sea is home to one of the most remarkable places in the world, ‘the Grand Canyons of the Sea.’ Tragically, this ecosystem is under threat from industrial fishing fleets that carve up the fragile corals and sponges on the sea floor. The science is clear, and the people have spoken: it is time to protect these spectacular canyons.”
Greenpeace and Mission Blue are just two of the groups who have been asking the body that oversees the fisheries in the Bering Sea, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, to protect the canyons from industrial fishing fleets. They’re coming together just as the NPFMC is preparing to decide the ecosystem’s fate in June. A review (PDF) published by the Alaska Fisheries Science Center last week concluded that the canyons likely contain over a third of the Bering Sea’s coral habitat, and are at high risk of impact from industrial fishing.
“This celebration comes at an exciting time,” Greenpeace Executive Director Phil Radford said. “just as the North Pacific Fishery Management Council prepares to decide whether to protect America’s Grand Canyons of the Sea, or to keep the status quo. We hope they will consider the scientific research Greenpeace and others have conducted and do the right thing.
“Seattle is over 2000 miles from the canyons, but the city and Washington state play a critical role in the future of these canyons–and the Bering Sea itself. Most of the largest fisheries operating in the Bering Sea are based right here, and three of the voting members of the Council represent Washington, two appointed by the Governor and one from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Seattle is at the heart of this effort, and we’re proud to celebrate the Bering Sea with the city.”