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On 15 September at 9am, Ocean Rebellion’s sculptural Bottom Trawling Fishing Boat bought its latest catch to the government offices of DEFRA, the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs which has responsibility for UK fisheries policy. The trawler had caught nine by-catch ‘Merpeople,’ complete with tails and crowns made of sea litter, trapping and killing them in its nets. The mythical creatures were all dead or dying and at least one had been speared through the face by a shark hook.

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As the merpeople lay gasping for water on the ground the trawler sounded its foghorns repeatedly to raise the alarm. The alarm woke up DEFRA and the Home Office but no one came. Instead the Home Office complained about the noise – to them the climate and ecological crisis just isn’t important.

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Protestors rushed to the scene carrying AS THE SEA DIES WE DIE and NO MORE FISH IN THE SEA banners.

Although looking dead, the Merpeople managed to revive themselves in the DEFRA water feature. Thankfully magic creatures can regenerate. The same can’t be said for the dolphins, sharks or other marine creatures that get caught in a trawlers 4km long nets. They’re just by-catch and are thrown away dead, or dying, into the sea.

After having a reviving bath the Merpeople were threatened with arrest by the police.

Politely they left the scene.

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Ocean Rebellion demands an end to bottom trawling, which emits more CO2 than global aviation for tiny economic gain, together with a just transition for displaced fisheries workers.

Bottom trawling releases huge amounts of Blue Carbon. This is carbon stored in seabed sediments and marine biodiversity. Releasing this contributes to ocean acidification which is threatening to eradicate any marine life with skeletons or shells in the relatively near-term. Consequently, countless such species are threatened with extinction.

Bottom trawling is killing us

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Rob Higgs from Ocean Rebellion says
“Imagine how much damage a 4km long weighted net does as it drags across the sea bed. It catches everything in its path (whatever that might be), destroys habitats, and releases the carbon sequestered there. Bottom trawling emits more greenhouse gases than aviation.”

Sophie Miller also from Ocean Rebellion adds
“Also nets break, and when they do the net is cut free to float across the Ocean killing anything that gets tangled. And, when they break the boat is ready with another to cast into the ocean to continue the death toll.”

Roc Sandford also from Ocean Rebellion says
“Humanity has declared war on fish and we’re winning. The Ocean is so depleted that small fishing communities are on the edge of survival and areas of former plenty are now empty. It’s a no-brainer to ban bottom trawling both on climate breakdown and nature breakdown grounds. Climate breakdown and nature breakdown are effectively the same thing and both have to be stopped now.”

Clive Russell also from Ocean Rebellion adds
“We demand bottom trawling is banned, worldwide, NOW. We demand all marine bodies Tell the Truth about destructive fishing and stop greenwashing a dirty industry with ‘sustainability’ lies.”

Suzanne Stallard also from Ocean Rebellion says
“the Ocean can recover quickly, but only if we halt this destructive practice now, within a few years these precious ecosystems will regenerate and fish populations will stabilise. We just need to give life a chance”

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Photo credits from the top, photos 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 Ilya Fisher. Photos 4 and 6 Joao Daniel Pereira.

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