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Marine Life & Conservation

Greenpeace prosecuted over underwater boulder barrier

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Greenpeace in court this week after the Marine Management Organisation decided to prosecute Greenpeace over protecting nature by building an underwater boulder barrier.

The UK government’s Marine Management Organisation [MMO] is prosecuting Greenpeace UK and its Executive Director, John Sauven, over the creation of an underwater boulder barrier to stop destructive bottom trawling in the Offshore Brighton Marine Protected Area (MPA) in February 2021.

In response to Greenpeace’s underwater boulder barriers, the MMO has consulted on introducing bottom trawling restrictions in four protected areas, including the Dogger Bank where Greenpeace’s first underwater boulder barrier was built. They plan to consult on introducing limited bottom trawling restrictions across all 40 offshore English MPAs.

The Offshore Brighton MPA was established in 2016 specifically to protect the seabed, but in 2019 bottom trawlers spent 3,099 hours ploughing and destroying its seabed and another 448 fishing hours last year. The MMO’s prosecution against Greenpeace is for depositing boulders without a license under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.

Stephen Fry, Ranulph Fiennes, Bonnie Wright and Mya Rose Craig, who all signed their names on to boulders, have penned an open letter to George Eustice, urging him to cease prosecution. Greenpeace’s boulders were signed by celebrities including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Thandiwe Newton, Mark Rylance, Jarvis Cocker, Robert Plant and others.

Inert granite boulders being placed into the English Channel as part of a bottom trawler exclusion zone in the Offshore Brighton Marine Protected Area. 

John Sauven, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK, said “Our boulder barriers were absolutely necessary in the face of continued inaction from the Marine Management Organisation, which has failed to protect our oceans from industrial fishing. The organisation has ignored the science which clearly shows that fully protected areas at sea have the best ecological results. While we live through a climate and nature emergency, the Marine Management Organisation chooses to move at a snail’s pace and propose half measures to improve the UK’s failing network of protected areas at sea.

“It’s absurd that the Marine Management Organisation, which is supposed to protect our natural environment, is wasting public resources taking us to court for protecting our oceans and doing their job for them. Our boulder barriers have stopped bottom trawlers from further damaging our oceans and worsening the climate emergency. While the Marine Management Organisation continues to fail in its duties, we will do all we can to protect our oceans.”

Greenpeace UK has made representations to the MMO that the prosecution is not in the public interest. The MMO, instead of attacking Greenpeace and draining its resources for responsibly preventing environmental harm, should follow its remit and direct its own resources into doing its job to safeguard the UK’s seas for future generations.

Mr Sauven and Greenpeace UK will plead not guilty. Mr Sauven faces up to two years in jail if found guilty. A date for the full hearing of the case will be fixed by Newcastle Crown Court. The MMO will have an opportunity at the hearing to desist with the prosecution following representations from Greenpeace.

Bottom trawlers spent 68,000 hours ploughing UK protected areas in 2020. This damages habitats, harms biodiversity and disturbs vast stores of blue carbon which would otherwise remain safely in the seabed. Greenpeace, along with the Marine Conservation Society, revealed earlier this year that 26.5 million tonnes of carbon is stored in the seabed in the UK’s offshore protected areas alone.

Greenpeace’s experienced team acted within all necessary safety precautions and immediately notified the Maritime and Coastguard Agency of the coordinates of each boulder. Maritime traffic was notified by radio. The natural boulders are made of inert granite and placed at a safe depth. Their impact on the seabed was scientifically assessed in advance and was found to be negligible.

Greenpeace is calling on the UK government to ban destructive industrial fishing vessels, including bottom trawlers, supertrawlers and fly-shooters, from all of the UK’s protected areas as a matter of urgency. Currently there are few restrictions on industrial fishing in the overwhelming majority of the UK’s offshore marine protected areas.

For more information on Greenpeace UK visit their website by clicking here.

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

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Marine Life & Conservation

Save Our Seas Foundation announce Ocean Storytelling Photography Grant

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Stories spark the imagination and nurture ideas. They are, without doubt, our most powerful form of communicating and connecting, both with each other and with the world around us.
The Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF) have a strong history of supporting marine conservation and education projects and believe that to truly translate knowledge into effective, meaningful change we must communicate through engaging stories. An inspiring or compelling story can spur positive action in ways that no presentation of facts can.

SOSF are delighted to introduce their new emerging Ocean Storyteller Grants, which will focus on photography in its inaugural year. The photography grant is led by our own director of storytelling and National Geographic photographer Thomas Peschak, in collaboration with Kathy Moran and Jennifer Samuel from National Geographic.

While they are looking specifically for photographers who can tell conservation stories about our oceans, the call is not limited to underwater photography. Applicants should think broadly – story topics can range from the animals themselves to fisheries or the communities whose lives are intertwined with marine life. Four successful grantees will each receive a fully funded assignment to shoot a conservation photo story on location (including day rate and travel), under the direct mentorship of the Ocean Storytelling Grant team.

To learn more about the grant and application process click here.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Dive Project Cornwall and PADI partner to educate the next generation of Ocean Torchbearers

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Dive Project Cornwall’s vision is simple – eliminate plastic pollution and protect the marine environment to save all life in our oceans for future generations to enjoy and cherish. 

“We are delighted to be working with PADI as a key partner to deliver Dive Project Cornwall, a new not-for-profit community interest organsiation,” says Andy Forster, Project Director of Dive Project Cornwall. “For a long time, I have considered it should be the right of every child to walk on a beach and feel the sand between their toes. Dive Project Cornwall aims to give young people that experience and take it one step further: giving them sight of the amazing underwater world. 

Through their own appreciation of the wonders of the marine environment, we inspire thought as to how we will look after our beaches and oceans and preserve them for future generations to enjoy. The success of this lies in educating hundreds of thousands of young people today, and we are delighted to be able to launch a comprehensive introduction to the ocean and marine conservation for young people and adults alike, in the form of Dive Project Cornwall.”

The plight of our world’s oceans is well documented, and through its global network of torchbearers, PADI® is committed to playing a prominent role in taking action to heal the planet, shining a light on what’s possible, and leading communities towards a sustainable future. The collaboration between PADI and Dive Project Cornwall brings this shared ocean conservation mission to life. 

Dive Project Cornwall will educate hundreds of thousands of young people by delivering an education programme directly into schools across the UK, raising the awareness of the importance of the planet’s marine environment and its vital role in our very existence.

At the heart of Dive Project Cornwall is a competition for 400 lucky teenagers to win the experience of a lifetime; a 6-day, life-changing trip to Cornwall where they will learn to scuba dive, enjoy outdoor adventures, take up beach-related activities and attend presentations from leading marine industry experts. The aim is for these teenagers to become PADI Open Water Divers and PADI Torchbearers – ocean influencers who positively engage, inspire and motivate the next generation to save our planet.

PADI is delighted to partner with Dive Project Cornwall to provide the 400 winning students with PADI Open Water Diver eLearning. PADI Dive Centres in Cornwall will work with the students to complete their in-water training and PADI certification. Scuba diving opens up the underwater world for young people and helps them to develop an understanding and appreciation for it, inspiring them to want to explore and protect it.

“Saving the ocean requires all of us to act together, and it’s crucial that we engage the younger generation in this work. Partnering with Dive Project Cornwall enables PADI to deliver such an important project, educating young people in the UK on the far-reaching impact that local action can have,” said Rich Somerset, Territory Director, PADI EMEA.

Dive Project Cornwall are currently looking for sponsors, media partners and collaborating charities to build the project to formal launch across the UK in January 2022. To find out more and get involved visit www.diveprojectcornwall.co.uk or email Andy Forster andy@diveprojectcornwall.co.uk

“We look forward to working with PADI and all of our sponsors (those already on board and those to come) to positively engage, inspire and motivate the next generation to save our planet,” says Forster.

For more info visit www.diveprojectcornwall.co.uk or www.padi.com

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Egypt | El Gouna | 10 – 17 November 2021 | Reefs & Wrecks staying at the Three Corners Ocean View Hotel

Set in the Abu Tig Marina, this all-inclusive, adults only, resort features 2 outdoor pools overlooking the clear waters of the Red Sea

Stylishly modern yet giving traditional services, this hotel is cleverly designed to be almost surrounded by the sea with a fabulous poolside terrace. There is a choice of restaurants and bars and a health club. Diving is with the renowned Emperor Divers

Price from just £845 per person based on sharing a twin room including:

  • Flights from Gatwick to Hurghada with 23kgs baggage
  • 7 nights in twin/double standard room
  • Bed & breakfast meal plan
  • 5 days’ 2 tank boat diving with Emperor Divers, guide, 12ltr tank & weights
  • All Transfers

*Marine Park Fees and extras payable locally

Subject to availability.

Email info@diversetravel.co.uk to find out more!

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