The Baltic Sea Campain-Sea Shepherd in Germany

Sea Shepherd GermanyThe BALTIC SEA CAMPAIGN 2021 started with great success.

During the first weeks of the campaign on Fehmarn and Rügen, eleven ghost nets with a salvage weight of more than 900 kilograms and hundreds of fishing lures were recovered from the Baltic Sea.

These nets, fish hooks and lines will no longer kill marine animals.

Sea Shepherd Germany returns to the Baltic Sea again to fight for the survival of harbor porpoises and many other threatened sea creatures.

In July 2017 Sea Shepherd Germany launched its first ship-based campaign in Germany.

From July 1 to the end of September 2017 and from April to June 2018, the EMANUEL BRONNER and the SIERRA speedboat patrolled various areas in the Baltic Sea. The aim of the campaign was to protect the threatened harbor porpoises, which often perish as bycatch in fishermen’s gill nets.

Illegal networks were documented and reported to the responsible authorities. The patrols also served to record the threat to harbor porpoises and to rescue deadly ghost nets.

Bycatch remains the greatest threat to animals, but fishing with gillnets is allowed, even in marine protected areas.

It is the first Sea Shepherd Germany campaign to use an ROV to effectively monitor networks in protected areas.
Although harbor porpoises, seals and seabirds are known to get entangled in set nets, fishermen deny this and report false bycatch rates.

They are aware that their fishing method is unsustainable and may be banned in the near future if too many undesirable species end up in the nets.

This is why they often disguise bycatch from protected porpoises.

Despite the ban on driftnets from 2008, the number of harbor porpoises caught has not changed, only the number of reported cases.

On the Polish coast alone, ten porpoises were found dead within a short period of time in June. For some of them, attempts had been made to cover up the cause of death with bycatch, for example by cutting open the body.

The harbor porpoises are part of the critically endangered Baltic population. With only 500 animals left, there is no time for weak regulations that allow loopholes.

In areas such as the Putziger Wiek, which are important for the porpoise to survive, all types of fixed nets, such as gillnets, must be banned.

WDC / harbor porpoises // Foto: Duncan Murrell

The harbor porpoise population in the Baltic Sea does not have much time left.

For decades, scientists have agreed that gillnets pose the greatest threat to harbor porpoises in the Baltic Sea due to the high risk of bycatch.
Nevertheless, this fishing gear is also allowed in marine protected areas.

In June 2018, a ruling by the EU Court of Justice (case C-683/16) changed everything.
Several German nature and environmental protection associations tried to obtain a ban on fishing in German marine protected areas, but the request was rejected.
Because a ban would also affect fishermen from other EU countries, it would be a matter for the EU, if at all.

After years of trying to get a state-level fishing ban to implement EU nature conservation law, the EU is now claiming that the ban is incompatible with other EU legislation.

Once again, the interest in profit is higher than the interest in nature conservation. But there are no winners in this situation: gillnet fishing has declined sharply over the past few decades.

It just doesn’t bring enough profit anymore, because the biodiversity in the Baltic Sea is decreasing by humans.
The question now is, what will die out sooner – the Baltic porpoises or gillnet fishing?

If this game of shifting responsibility to other institutions continues for the next decade, the losers will be the porpoises.

And I mean...Pollution, overfishing, warming and acidification are just a few of the issues affecting the ocean as a habitat. The consequences not only endanger life in the water, but also change the climate on land. And our life.

“If the ocean dies, then we all die”.
We are faced with a choice of either doing nothing or trying the impossible.
When consumers order fish in a restaurant or buy fish from the market, they are helping to destroy marine ecosystems around the world because they are also helping commercial fisheries, which are hideous and killing the planet.
Rethink and leave carcasses out of your plate.

My best regards to all, Venus

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