toxic politics trawled fish empty seas


Today, at 5pm, three mer-people washed up outside the official residence of the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, with a plea to take the lead and help keep the Ocean alive. The three bycatch ‘Merpeople,’ complete with tails and crowns made of sea litter, were caught in trawler nets. The mythical marine life was dead or dying, a state that reflects the degradation of our Ocean and the coastal waters these beautiful creatures inhabit.

As the merpeople lay dying, Ocean Rebellion projected a short film specially commissioned for COP26 and created in Cornwall.

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toxic politics 3 bottom trawling is killing us
toxic politics 4 sauvez les poissons sturgeon

Ocean Rebellion then projected slogans on the First Minister’s house broadcasting how industrial fishing is destroying our seas and included slogans in French – to highlight the toxic politics surrounding the recent Anglo-French fishing disputes, toxic politics that ignore the destruction scallop dredging and bottom trawling is doing to our coastal waters. The slogans included: DON’T TOUCH MY BOTTOM; LA POLITIQUE TOXIQUE PERMET LE CHALUTAGE DE FOND: LA MER EST VIDE; BORIS IS TANGLED IN INDUSTRIAL FISHING; LE NOUVEAU PROBLÈME DU CARBONE BLEU; SAVE THE FISH, STURGEON among others.

toxic politics 5 boris is tangled in industrial fishing


Ocean Rebellion appeals to the Scottish Government to reverse years of neglect and harm and start to take the environment seriously, protecting it for the livelihoods and survival of the young. Bottom trawling and scallop dredging are destroying the coastal waters of Scotland. The Scottish Government must stop supporting industrial fishing— it is an environmental tragedy which decimates fragile coastal fishing communities. A transition to low-impact fishing will protect Scottish coastal waters and increase job opportunities in such communities. Industrial fishing is among the lowest employers per tonne of fish and profits only a few, very rich, people. It’s important now to champion small fishers and use this as an opportunity to plot a course to a better fishing future.

Increasing Scottish salmon farming is not the answer. Scotland’s marine environment needs to be protected for future generations. Ocean Rebellion appeals to Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government to obey the findings of its own parliament and impose a moratorium on any new salmon farms and on any increased production until this devastating industry has cleaned itself up. The industry must be properly regulated, with protection of the environment not profit from the environment at its heart.

Industrial fishing ships release 159M tonnes of CO2 each year


Bottom Trawling is estimated to emit more CO2 than global aviation.

CO2 stored in the oceans is known as Blue Carbon. This is carbon stored in seabed sediments, marine habitats and the fish caught there. When the seabed is damaged by bottom trawling, this blue carbon is released, switching the seabed from a carbon sink to a source of CO2 and of methane (CH4), a much more potent greenhouse gas. Blue Carbon is also stored in marine animals, so fish taken out of the sea also add to Blue Carbon release. If this figure were included in carbon footprint calculations, it’s likely that the actual footprint of some bottom trawled seafood would be even higher than any other food, including beef. All this contributes to ocean acidification which is threatening to eradicate marine life especially those with skeletons or shells in the relatively near-term. Countless marine species are now threatened with extinction.

Industrial fishing vessels release 159 million tonnes of CO2 each year. This is equivalent to the annual amount of CO2 emitted by 40 coal-fired power plants.This figure has risen four-fold since 1950 estimates. Industrial fisheries benefit from government fuel subsidies worth an estimated US$7.7 billion a year. Fossil fuel subsidies for bottom trawling should be redirected to support a just transition for fishermen and fisherwomen to low-emission and low-impact fishing.

toxic politics 6 no more fish in the sea

Bally Croft from Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Association says:
“To meet the challenges of the biodiversity and climate crisis Scotland desperately needs to transition to low impact fisheries, especially in our inshore waters where much of our carbon and biodiversity is currently being impacted. The Scottish government’s own evidence shows if we restrict inshore trawling we can actually increase employment within our small scale artisanal low impact fisheries sectors and regenerate our coastal communities.”

Rob Higgs from Ocean Rebellion says:
“Imagine how much damage a net bigger than a jumbo jet causes as it drags across the seabed. It catches everything in its path (whatever that might be), destroys marine life, and releases the ‘blue’ carbon stored there. Bottom trawling emits more greenhouse gases than aviation. That’s a lot of gases.”

Sophie Miller also from Ocean Rebellion adds:
“Often 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. Over 100 million people rely on inshore subsistence and small-scale artisanal fishing for their daily food and livelihood − often using the same waters targeted by bottom trawlers. 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.”

Salmon farming has netted Sturgeon

Roc Sandford adds:
“Salmon farming is destroying Scotland’s coastline, loch by loch, and with it the jobs of countless local people who depend for their livelihood on clean and living seas. Our leaders are betraying us. The salmon industry has captured Marine Scotland, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, NatureScot & the Scottish Government. No more excuses Nicola—implement the settled will of the Scottish Parliament with a moratorium on salmon farms. And let’s wind down Scottish salmon farming completely if they won’t clean up their act.”

Clive Russell also from Ocean Rebellion says:
“The facts are damning. Bottom trawlers land around 19 million tonnes of seafood annually. This is almost a quarter of global marine landings and is an amount larger than any other fishing method – it really is emptying our Ocean. Plus, over the past 65 years alone, bottom trawlers have discarded overboard more than 400 million tonnes of unwanted marine life (bycatch). Had this catch been landed, it would have been worth around US$560 billion, that’s an enormous amount of dead marine life, dolphins, sharks, turtles – all of these are considered ‘bycatch’.”

Andrew Darnton adds:
“We demand all marine bodies Tell the Truth about industrial fishing and stop greenwashing a dirty industry with ‘sustainability’ lies. We must end bottom trawling worldwide, NOW, together with a just transition for displaced fisheries workers.”

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, if we don’t, there will be no more fish in the sea.”

toxic politics 7 banning coastal trawling restores habitats and helps small scale fishers

We demand all marine bodies TELL THE TRUTH about industrial fishing and stop greenwashing the industry with ‘sustainability’ lies.

We demand governments end bottom trawling, worldwide NOW, together with a just transition for displaced fisheries workers.


Take part in the Ocean Rebellion supermarket ‘unsustainable fishing’ certification scheme:

Sign this community-led petition to return the three mile limit to safeguard Scottish waters from Bottom Trawling:

Sign this European petition to stop Bottom Trawling in Marine Protected Areas:

And this UK petition by the makers of Seaspiracy:

For more information visit:

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