from a “squid” driftnet in the North Pacific
International awareness of the devastating nature of driftnet fishing has grown explosively since Earthtrust’s expedition in 1988. This continues to the present, and will be an inportant issue through the first decades of this century. However, the victory to date is inspiring both for this issue, and for other issues which seem impossibly large. This chronology covers the important period from ’76 to ’95. (This is highly summarized; historians or the Nobel Prize Committee may email for more detailed information).
Japan develops nylon monofilament nets for deep-sea driftnetting, creating the most destructive fishery yet devised. In 1979, when squid driftnetting is banned within 1000 km of the Japanese coast, Japan develops a distant-water driftnet fishery.
Reports of very high dolphin and seabird kills associated with the Bering Sea driftnet fishery reach Don White, then directing the inter national dolphin campaigns of Greenpeace. He sends the Rainbow Warrior to the Bering Sea to document the fishery and the bycatch. The images obtained capture world attention and the world’s first internationally televised documentary on driftnets, co-written by White, leading to the expulsion of Japan’s fleets from the Bering Sea and Taiwan’s fleet from the coastal waters of Australia.
Reports indicate that more than 500 driftnet boats are targeting squid in central Pacific waters. As these waters are beyond the jurisdiction of any nation, little can be done to prevent the fleet’s growth, or monitor its activities.
The squid fleet expands to an estimated 1200 boats, each deploying some 30 miles of net nightly during a 7-month fishing season. Little is known about fishery and wildlife impacts. Primarily concerned with impacts to U.S. salmon, the U.S. Congress adopts the Driftnet Impact Monitoring, Assessment and Control Act of 1987, which calls for an observer program.
Despite the Act, negotiations for significant international observer programs aboard squid driftnet vessels are stalled. At the same time, indications are growing that Japanese and Taiwanese driftnet fisheries for albacore in the Southern hemisphere are rapidly depleting fish stocks, and are resulting in massive incidental wildlife kills. As more nations develop driftnet fleets, the issue becomes deadlocked …
Earthtrust launches the 38-foot campaign boat SEA DRAGON to document the operations of a squid fleet. The six-member Earthtrust crew, braving North Pacific storms, locates the fleet and obtains the first-ever photographic documentation of a commercial driftnet vessel operating on the high seas, along with dramatic underwater footage of driftnet casualties. As these images appear throughout the world in print and on television, attention is galvanized. Suddenly, deep-sea driftnetting is being discussed at international levels as governments begin to ask what is happening to their marine resources.
At the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency in Fiji, seven nations meet to discuss the emerging threat that driftnetting may pose to the albacore stocks, wildlife, and fishermen whose boats get entrapped by the nets.
The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service issues its first press release stating concerns about driftnetting.
Earthtrust creates a network of supporters within the United States and Canada, uniting fishing and conservation interests in an action coalition to press for a ban on driftnetting.
Earthtrust president Don White and Earthtrust expedition videographer Sam LaBudde produce a 23-minute video, Stripmining the Seas. It is the first video ever produced to focus on driftnetting, and calls for a ban on the use of this technology.
In Honolulu, Earthtrust presents “Stripmining the Seas” to representatives of the Japan Fisheries Agency attending an entanglement conference, requesting comments and updates. None are received.
Sam LaBudde screens “Stripmining the Seas” for New Zealand scientists and governmental officials to visually describe the nature of the threat to South Pacific resources. When shown at the annual conference of the Federation of Commercial Fishermen, participants are outraged at the wanton waste of the ocean’s resources and the toll taken on wildlife.
New Zealand launches an investigation into the extent of driftnetting in the South Pacific, and contemplates legislative action. Earthtrust and the New Zealand Department of Conservation form a strong and ongoing alliance. Fleet expansion becomes a concern as evidence is gathered indicating that the fleet is expanding from 17 vessels in the 1987-88 season to 180 vessels for the 1988-89 season. U.S. Congresswoman Jolene Unsoeld contacts Earthtrust for information to draft U.S. legislation restricting driftnets. She presents Earthtrust footage in announcing legislation urging President Bush to impose economic sanctions against driftnetting nations.
A version of “Stripmining the Seas” is shown to a Congressional oversight committee on driftnetting by a coalition of U.S. fishing organizations.
Woolworths, a major New Zealand grocery chain, runs newspaper ads using Earthtrust’s photo of a baby dolphin drowned in a driftnet, announcing it will refuse to buy seafood caught in driftnets.
Earthtrust works closely with Hawaii Governor John Waihee and William Paty of the Department of Land and Natural Resources; Hawaii subsequently passes a law prohibiting the possession of driftnets in Hawaiian waters, to stop Asian driftnet boats from using Hawaii’s ports. A copy of the law is sent to New Zealand as a model.
As required under the Driftnet Act of 1987, Japan and the U.S. agree to an observer program. Fourteen U.S. and Canadian observers will be put on Japanese squid driftnet boats. This number is criticized as statistically insignificant.
South Pacific nations adopt the “Tarawa Declaration,” calling for a ban on driftnetting in the South Pacific, and demanding that Japan and Taiwan immediately halt all driftnet operations.
The U.S. State Department criticizes as “wasteful and indiscriminate” North Pacific driftnet fishing operations of Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.
Inspired by news media and fisheries attention to the issue, the first North Pacific Driftnet Conference is held in British Columbia. Scientific papers are presented, and immediate action to restrict driftnetting is urged.
A Taiwanese businessman is arrested in Seattle for illegally selling driftnetted Pacific salmon valued at over 1 million dollars. The sale is a violation of the Lacey Act, which prohibits commerce in illegally caught fish and wildlife.
The Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Tom Siddon, states that Canada opposes the use of driftnets in the North Pacific.
The Japanese Ambassador warns New Zealand not to take unilateral action against driftnet fishing in international waters. The United Daily News in Taiwan reports Americans are receiving death threats due to American action restricting the activities of Taiwanese fishermen in the North Pacific.
Guam passes a resolution asking President Bush to move toward banning driftnet fishing and importation of fish caught using driftnets.
The U.S. Coast Guard boards a Taiwanese driftnet vessel and seizes 1.3-million dollars in illegally caught U.S. salmon.
Faced with sanctions, Taiwan finally agrees to begin an observer program for 1989, and to place transponders on driftnet and transport vessels in the North Pacific by 1990.
U.S. officials state if South Korea doesn’t sign an agreement under the Driftnet Act, economic retaliation will follow.
Earthtrust raises concern that Hawaii is not enforcing the state’s driftnet ban. William Paty of D.L.N.R. then makes a speech before the Western Pacific Fisheries Management Council entitled, “Dismantling the Wall of Death.” Paty states, “whether (other fisheries can continue to exist) will depend on…how far-reaching our efforts (are in) banning the stripmining of our seas by drift gillnetters.” He credits the Earthtrust expedition with focusing the issue.
The Canadian Prime Minister’s office contacts Earthtrust for assistance in drafting Canada’s policy on driftnets. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney meets with Japan’s Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu to discuss the serious problem driftnetting poses for Canada’s fisheries and marine wildlife. Kaifu pledges Japan will cooperate on this issue.
Congressman Eni Faleomavaega of American Samoa meets with Earthtrust to discuss U.S. and South Pacific driftnet legislation. A strong advocate for banning driftnetting in the South Pacific, he remains a close contact with Earthtrust.
The U.S. Senate sends a letter to Thomas Pickering, Ambassador to the United Nations, requesting that he introduce a strong resolution calling for an end to driftnetting.
At its meeting in Guam, the South Pacific Conference calls for a ban on driftnetting in the South Pacific. The U.S. says it will support that call. Japan says it will reduce its fleet and send an enforcement vessel to the region.
Japan urges the U.S. and New Zealand not to introduce a resolution at the United Nations banning driftnet fishing.
To forestall the growing movement for a global ban on driftnets, Japan introduces a United Nations resolution calling for continued study of driftnetting.
The next day, the U.S. introduces a resolution calling for an immediate ban on driftnetting in the South Pacific, and a moratorium on driftnetting worldwide by June 30, 1992. The UN operates on consensus so a compromise must be reached.
The governors of Hawaii, California, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Washington and the premier of British Columbia jointly create the “North Pacific Driftnet Declaration.” It seeks an initial reduction and ultimate ban on driftnet fishing on the high seas. Most of the signatories had worked directly with Earthtrust on this issue.
House Resolution 3496 is introduced by Representative DeFazio. It would prohibit importation into the U.S. of fish or marine animal products from Japan, Taiwan, or the Republic of Korea until those countries cease driftnetting.
House Concurrent Resolution 214, entitled “In Support of Banning Driftnetting in the South Pacific,” asks the Secretary of State to participate in developing an international convention to ban driftnetting in the South Pacific. Authored by Congressman Faleomavaega, it passes unanimously with the support of the Hawaii delegation. The Congressman’s staff consults with Earthtrust in producing the final version of this legislation.
The Japan Fisheries Association sends a transcript of “The Truth About Driftnetting,” to all members of the U.S. Congress to counteract the strong anti-driftnetting movement. This video tape, made by their New York public relations firm, makes unauthorized use of Earthtrust’s briefing video. It alleges that the issue of driftnetting is a “non-issue” created by Earthtrust and the U.S. fishing industry. It is shown at the United Nations in the hopes of influencing the vote on a ban. Soon after, Earthtrust produces a carefully referenced document that refutes, point by point, each of the allegations made in the J.F.A. video. This document is well-received by U.N. missions and government officials who receive it. For example, the government of Nauru sends a telex to Earthtrust noting the “well-analyzed and verified replies” to the Japanese allegations.
Adopted by 22 South Pacific countries, the “Convention for the Prohibition of Fishing With Long Driftnets in the South Pacific” is the strongest legislation yet on driftnetting. The signatory nations
agree: to prohibit the possession of driftnets in their own Exclusive Economic Zones, to prohibit their nationals and any vessels registered in their nations from engaging in driftnet activities, and to prohibit the trans-shipment of driftnet products through their waters. Nations are encouraged to restrict port access and port servicing, prohibit processing in facilities, and to impose even stricter measures than those required by the Convention.
Responding to requests from South Pacific islanders, the Earthtrust campaign vessel EVOHE departs Wellington, New Zealand to document fish and wildlife entrapment by Japanese and Taiwanese driftnets in the Tasman Sea. Japanese consulates inquire repeatedly as to the EVOHE’s location, seeking to avoid a highly publicized encounter. For the first time, driftnetters delay their operations in the central waters of the Tasman Sea.
After intensive negotiations, the United Nations adopts a compromise U.S./Ja pan resolution (UNGA 44/225) which calls for: a reduction in all driftnet fleets, a moratorium on driftnetting in the South Pacific by July 1, 1991, and a moratorium in all others areas of the world by June 30, 1992 “unless effective conser vation and management measures have been taken.” This “loophole” is criticized and, since U.N. resolutions are non-binding, this action is far from a ban. However, it marks major progress from the obscurity which surrounded the issue before the sailing of the SEA DRAGON in 1988.
A Taiwanese driftnet boat captain reveals he will go to the Falkland Islands next season, rather than return to the South Pacifica region under intense scrutiny by Earthtrust. Earthtrust, in turn, announces plans to monitor the waters around the Falklands. Meanwhile, Japanese television uses Earthtrust footage in news broadcasts.
Earthtrust submits extensive data and comment to the U.S. Congress on the need for driftnet legislation and the inclusion of tuna under the Magnuson act.
The U.S. and Taiwan discuss effects of Taiwanese driftnetting in the North Pacific on U.S. resources. The U.S. raises conservation, navigation, and safety problems, and proposes monitoring and enforcement programs. Taiwan refuses to sign an agreement at this time.
Taiwan announces it will halt driftnetting in the South Pacific by July 1991, in accordance with the U.N. resolution. It says the government will buy back driftnet boats and grant no new construction licenses. Earthtrust meets with the Taiwan Council of Agriculture and discovers that no funds have been allocated for the buy-back plan.
The Marine Mammal Commission meets in Honolulu. At the request of Executive Director John Twiss, Earthtrust shows “Stripmining the Seas” to initiate discussion of the driftnet issue.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) shows that driftnetting is even more devastating than Earthtrust feared. The UNFAO now estimates that between 315,000-1,000,000 dolphins were killed in 1989 by known driftnet fisheries.
Japan and the U.S. sign an agreement to monitor North Pacific driftnet fleets, primarily to protect U.S. salmon. It calls for tripling the number of observers to provide 10 percent coverage for both squid and large-mesh fleets, and installing transponders on all boats.
StarKist, Chicken of the Sea, and Bumble Bee Tuna, which account for 84 per cent of the U.S. tuna market, announce that they will not purchase tuna caught on dolphins during purse-seining, or import tuna caught with driftnets. Bumble Bee, a Thai-owned company, refuses to commit not to purchase driftnet-caught tuna packed in Thailand canneries and exported to other countries..
The Council of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization endorses the U.N. driftnet resolution.
The National Marine Fisheries Service releases the 1989 Report of the Observer Program.
Estimates are worse than feared:
1989 ESTIMATED MORTALITY *
JAPANESE SQUID FLEET
AT 4% OBSERVER EXTRAPOLATED
COVERAGE 100% COVERAGE
Albacore 59,060 1,476,500
Blue Sharks 58,100 1,452,500
Dolphins 914 22,850
Sea Birds 9,173 229,325
(*1989 U.S. Observer Program data)
Earthtrust submits extensive comments to the United Nations Law of the Sea office which is drafting the Secretary General’s Report to the United Nations. The final Report credits Earthtrust for bringing this issue to the forefront.
The International Whaling Commission adopts a resolution in support of U.N. resolution 44/225. The action validates years of work by Earthtrust to have the IWC address driftnetting as a form of “whaling.” An Italian court suspends all driftnetting for swordfish and albacore tuna by Italian nationals.
Sid Johnson, who had seen Earthtrust’s video production “Stripmining the Seas,” identifies and photographs Taiwanese driftnet boats at Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago. This is first documentation of driftnetting’s spread to the Western Atlantic. U.S. fishermen fear that billfish may be intercepted by driftnetting fleets before reaching U.S. waters.
The New York Times publishes Sid Johnson’s driftnetting photos from Trinidad. The National Fisheries Company claims the Trinidad boats are long-liners; however, a U.S. National Marine Fisheries biologist verifies the nets are driftnets. Earthtrust offers $1000 reward for documentation of driftnets deployed in the Western Pacific. Sid Johnson becomes the Earthtrust field representative for Trinidad and Tobago, and “Stripmining the Seas” is aired on Trinidad TV.
Earthtrust sends a team to the United Nations to present documentation of driftnetting in the Western Atlantic Ocean, and to push for full implementation of U.N. resolution 44/225. Soon after, Trinidad and Tobago announces a ban on driftnet boats in their waters.
Earthtrust and the Audubon Society present documentation to the U.N. of driftnet boats in the Azores–a violation of U.N. resolution 44/225.
Earthtrust reports to the U.N. that a Taiwanese company sold two boats to mainland China and then applied for new boat construction permits. This action indicates that at least this Taiwan company has no intention of complying with the upcoming UN moratorium.
In Thailand, Bumble Bee refuses to allow investigators Jim Logan of Earthtrust and Brenda Killian of Earth Island Institute to investigate its cannery, which is suspected of continuing to buy driftnet fish. However, canneries who sell to StarKist allow the team to inspect their facilities to verify “dolphin safe” claims.
Earthtrust conducts a session on pelagic driftnetting at the International Whaling Commission’s “Symposium on Mortality of Cetaceans in Passive Fishing Nets and Traps”.
The U.S. Senate adopts amendments to the Magnuson Act which mandate a ban on importing any fish or fish products harvested by driftnets in the South Pacific (effective July 1, 1991), or anywhere by July 1, 1992. It also makes it illegal for any U.S. citizen to use driftnets.
Earthtrust president Don White receives national TV and print coverage in New Zealand on the driftnet issue. During this time, eleven Taiwanese boats are plying the Tasman Sea.
Jim Logan and Brenda Killian investigate canneries in Indonesia. Cannery executives report Taiwanese boats approach them to buy driftnetted fish but they refuse. Driftnet boats are not legal in its territorial waters, but Indonesia has 13,000 islands and no Coast Guard.
Driftnet nations, led by Japan, research ways to modify nets in an effort to show the world that the nets can be made “safe” for dolphins. They underestimate the concern that fisheries are being depleted and that other species are significantly affected. Earthtrust investigators meet with driftnet fleet owners who state they are using these modified nets with varying success. The investigation also reveals evidence that even if the government of Taiwan adopts policies banning its citizens from driftnetting, authorities will not be able to prevent the fleets from driftnet fishing. Earthtrust submits a report on its findings in Taiwan to the UN.
The U.N. adopts a second drift net resolution, reaffirming the need to end this fishery.
Earthtrust’s Taiwan investigative team researches Taiwanese driftnetting. Interviews with government officials, fishermen, and fishing analysts uncover that the driftnet industry plans to defy any government directives to stop driftnetting; that human rights violations are rampant in the industry; that waste of target species is even higher than observer programs show because many boats lack proper refrigeration and a high percentage of the catch is spoiled on the return trip. Earthtrust interviews a governmental official who states on camera that “there are too many dolphins in the ocean.” Multi -purpose boats are being constructed, making it possible for vessels to hide the fact they are equipped with driftnets.
The Japan Fisheries Association produces its second pro-driftnet video for use at the U.N. Earthtrust begins research and production of a second video to counter misinformation in the J.F.A. piece.
Sir Geoffrey Palmer, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and the catalyst in the South Pacific for banning driftnetting, joins the Earthtrust International Advisory Board.
Japan drops charges against 35 fishermen accused of posing as North Kore ans and illegally poaching salmon, claiming that since “the boat owners did not make a profit, a crime was not committed. ”
Earthtrust sources indicate that China has begun a driftnet fleet with boats purchased from Taiwan. This action violates the spirit of U.N. Resolution 44 /225 which calls for no further expansion of fleets.
Earthtrust sponsors Stephen Leatherwood’s participation in the Scientific Committee of the IWC and sponsors Magnus Skarpheddison as Earthtrust’s representative at the Plenary Session of the IWC. Both are strong advocates for a driftnet ban. However, the United Kingdom, which established a small driftnet fleet earlier in the year, blocked a resolution which would have defined driftnets as nets over 1.5 miles long.
The U.S. releases figures of the 1990 U.S.-Japan North Pacific squid driftnet observer program. The U.S. estimates that to take 106-million red flying squid, over 40-million other creatures from more than 100 species were killed.
Counsel for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) asks Earthtrust for a legal analysis of the General Agreements on Trade and Tariff (GATT) provisions, and how they affect marine mammals. At the urging of Earthtrust, among others, the Hawaii Congressional delegation endorses a call for the U.S. to object to any GATT amendments that would harm dolphins.
Earthtrust verifies that a planned U.S. driftnet research cruise would be illegal under the Magnuson Act. Within two weeks of alerting Congress and the Marine Mammal Commission that this cruise will send a message to Japan that “the U.S. thinks scientific driftnetting is defendable,” Earthtrust is notified that the government will suspend the research.
Earthtrust analyzes new data from large mesh and small mesh observer programs, and calculates that more than 50 times more turtles and 20 times more dolphins die in the large mesh than in the small mesh. Earthtrust contacts the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service. NMFS had looked at the turtle data, but says the dolphin data has not been examined.
Earthtrust team at the United Nations in 1991:
Jim Logan, Art van Remundt, Linda Paul, and Sue White
The Earthtrust United Nations driftnet team travels to New York to present a new video “Closing the Curtains of Death,” and a 115-page briefing paper on driftnetting to U.N. delegates. The team is warmly received. Representatives of many nations send copies of the materials to their home countries. Earthtrust works with sponsors of the U.N. resolution calling for a global ban on driftnets to ensure that a consensus resolution will be a strong one. Japan is calling for continued study, the U.S. is calling for a ban; meanwhile, the European Community has already adopted a ban on driftnets effective at the end of 1993. Negotiations between the major proponents and opponents of driftnetting increasingly are heated. Earthtrust keeps U.N. missions updated on the events.
November 25, 1991
Japan and the U.S. announce they have reached agreement on a joint resolution to phase out driftnet use worldwide.
December 20, 1991
As United Nations Resolution 46/215, the resolution is adopted by the General Assembly. The resolution calls for a 50 per cent reduction of driftnet operations by June 30, 1992 and a full phase-out by the end of the year. Although 46/215 extends driftnetting by six months, it is the first time that Japan has agreed to end driftnetting, and the resolution does not include the loophole in the earlier resolution (44/225). Earthtrust hails the victory, but cautions that continued international pressure will be needed to achieve compliance with the moratorium; it will establish an investigative network to track fleet movements and other developments on the driftnet issue.
Earthtrust Taiwan learns that some Taiwanese driftnet boat owners have built “multi-purpose” boats designed to easily hide driftnets, and plan to move their operations off the coast of Africa once the moratorium takes place.
In response to these and other developments, Earthtrust creates the DriftNetwork, a global investigative network of governments, organizations and individuals to track fleet activity, and create national and international enforcement legislation. Noel Brown, dir”ector, U.N. Environmental Programme, says “The only mechanism now proposed which may credibly provide the information necessary to implement the full U.N. moratorium is the concept of the DriftNetwork, planned by Earthtrust.”
An article in the The Far Eastern Economic Review, published in Singapore “Gone Fishing: Rogues Trawlers May Be Dodging Official Driftnet Ban” quotes Earthtrust Taiwan’s Keith Highley and features Earthtrust’s photo of a fishermen holding up a swordfish on board a driftnet boat.
The Director of Fisheries of the Bahamas asks Earthtrust for information on driftnetting and for information on sustainable fisheries. Earthtrust supplies its driftnet documentation, urges the Bahamas to support a United Nations resolution calling for an international driftnet boat registry, and urges the Bahamas to ban non-sustainable fisheries.
Notified by a DriftNetwork contact of a driftnet boat in Singapore, Earthtrust mobilizes an investigative team from Taiwan. Upon arrival in Singapore the team documentsdriftnets and driftnet gear on two boats. Both boats had disguised their identities but their Taiwanese crews talked freely to Earthtrust’s investigators. The crew maintained that they were not worried about violating the United Nations moratorium or Taiwanese laws against driftnetting. The boats were based out of Kaoshiung, Taiwan . They purchased Honduran flags and had renamed their boats with English names. They had been driftnetting in the Indian Ocean (a sperm whale sanctuary) and were heading to the North Pacific). Their nets were stored in Mainland China according to the crew and they off loaded their catch in Singapore. This was the first photodocumentation of pirate driftnet boats in port and the first knowledge of where the nets were stored and what companies were involved.
Earthtrust keeps the information on the investigation confidential until June while assessing whether a team could be sent to Mainland China. Government contacts were consulted regarding the China trip. Ultimately it was deemed not feasible and the Singapore investigation was revealed to the public.
Earthtrust broke the story of its investigation in Singapore. The story was carried by the Associated Press internationally. The Honolulu Star Bulletin , June 4, 1993 carried a 14″ by 7″ story with the photo of the driftnet boat taken by Earthtrust investigator Suzie Highley in Singapore.
The Taiwanese Consulate invites Earthtrust to inspect Taiwan Driftnet enforcement boats. Earthtrust personnel inspect the boats on two occasions when in Honolulu for refueling. The Taiwanese are asked specific questions regarding their plans for the patrol boats, including why they were not going to go to the Indian Ocean. Soon after, Taiwan issues a press release stating that in 1994 they would have one boat in the Indian Ocean as well as boats patrolling the North Pacific.
Earthtrust receives a letter from Representative Patsy Mink praising this report titled “Earthtrust and Driftnets: A Capsule History”. Wrote Mink, ” I commend your gallant efforts to protect the oceans from driftnet fishers. Please keep me informed.” Ms. Mink has been a strong supporter of the effort to end driftnet fishing.
Earthtrust produces the first edition of the “Asia Driftnet News” which it sends to contacts throughout the world. U.S. Coast Guard official calls to tell us that it is the most up-to-date information that he has seen on driftnets and to please keep him on the mailing list.
Keith Highley, director of Earthtrust Taiwan, and Linda Paul, a fisheries expert and environmental attorney, go to Washington DC to meet with US government officials and conservation organizations. Keith and Linda meet with among others: Ambassador David Colson, US Dept. of State; William Dilday, Office of Fisheries Affairs, US Dept of State; Steven Springer, Chief, Enforcement Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service; Lt. Daniel Kristovich and Lt. Cmdr Kevin Miller, US Coast Guard, Milton Rose, International Trade Officer, National Marine Fisheries, Office of Enforcement ; Wynn Calland, Cmdr. US Navy, Special Assistant for Ocean Resources; and the congressional staff aides. Briefings on the role that Taiwanese fishing companies are playing in the spread of pirate driftnetting are presented by Keith. Linda emphasizes the power that the US has to sanction countries whose citizens are engaging in driftnetting.
The Director of the Taiwanese Council of Agriculture faxes to Earthtrust a response to our inquiry regarding Indonesian /Taiwanese driftnet operations The letter states that the permit for Taiwanese driftnet boats had expired February 1992.. Earthrust continues to receive reports of Taiwanese driftnet boats in Indonesia waters.
The Office of Naval Intelligence utilizes Earthtrust driftnet footage for a video to be used in training navy surveillance officers in how to recognize driftnet boats. They will use both Earthtrust footage from both the North Pacific expedition and the Singapore investigation.
Earthtrust receives a letter from the Coordination Council for North American affairs (the Taiwan Consulate) in Honolulu. It states that Taiwan has taken action against the Chin Lai and the Titan No. 1 due to the photodocumentation provided by Earthtrust. The licenses of both boats are suspended for a period of time.
Hannah Bernard, Earthtrust representative distributes Earthtrust driftnet information at the Marine Mammal Commission Meeting in Galveston Texas as well as at the Biennial Conference on Marine Mammals. Earthtrust is thanked for providing the participants with the most recent information available on pirate driftnet activity.
Earthtrust is notified by the Humane Society International that the French government is pressuring the European Council to allow them to continue to driftnet. France turned in two studies to the EC which they say supported their conclusion that the French driftnet fishing was not harming the environment. Dr. Ken Marten, director of Earthtrust’s Project Delphis, translates the French papers. He analyzes the scientific arguments and concludes that the data from the French studies not only does NOT support such a conclusion, but in fact proves the opposite.
According to the French studies, of the 600 common and striped dolphins observed killed in the French driftnet fishery, over 50% still had their umbilical cords attached. Not only were dolphins and other cetaceans taken, but leatherback turtles as well. Earthtrust had recently been notified by a professor in the US that at the present rate of decline, leatherbacks would be extinct within 25 years. Thus, the take of leatherback by the French driftnet fishery could significantly affect this species.
Earthtrust submits an analysis of the French studies to the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers for the EC.
Earthtrust investigators travel to Kaoshiung, Taiwan to look for the presence of driftnet boats in port, but do not find any.
Earthtrust remains in close communications with government contacts on the EC driftnet situation, and receives assurances that if the EC extends the deadline for a ban on using driftnets longer than 2.5 km that the US will invoke the sanctions process under the Driftnet Moratorium Act. Earthtrust continues to monitor US reactions to these developments.
DriftNetwork Coordinator Sue White meets with foundations and contacts in California to keep them aware of pirate driftnet activity.
Earthtrust receives a letter from a lieutenant in the Coast Guard stating that the best training resource that he has seen was ” Stripmining the Seas”. He wrote that ” even the videotape could not capture the sadness one feels while observing people destroying the Ocean’s resources. On the other hand, most people don’t have the unique opportunity to observe this tragedy first-hand, making documentation by …Earthtrust vital to the education of our citizens and to the protection of our Oceans.”
Earthtrust is contacted by Disney and other production companies for usage of driftnet footage in their projects.
Keith Highley travels to Mainland China for three weeks, where he investigates reports of driftnet boats using Chinese ports. Keith is told that he had just missed a South Korean boat by two days. This is the first report of South Korean boats using Mainland China.
A volunteer from Spain translates the driftnet boat identification flyer into Spanish for distribution at the IWC meeting in May
The draft of Earthtrust’s extensive white paper on driftnetting is completed, titled High Seas Driftnetting: The Plunder of the Global Commons, by Earthtrust’s international wildlife law expert Linda Paul.
On April 7, 1994 the European Commission votes to allow the French to continue to driftnet for one more year. Earthtrust immediately writes to the United States Government calling upon it to invoke sanctions under the Driftnet Moratorium Enforcement Act. Earthtrust sends out notification of the EC decision to activist contacts.
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