AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- Large fishing fleets should be cut in half by 2005 to protect the world's oceans and declining fish stocks, Greenpeace International has urged the United Nations.
The downsizing of major fleets was the key demand in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan pressing for greater protection of marine life. ``Fish stocks are in crisis worldwide, we may be about to see a return to large-scale whaling, and oil exploration threatens marine life and the atmosphere,'' Greenpeace executive director Thilo Bode said.
Large-scale trawlers and other big commercial fishing vessels should be thinned out by 50 percent by 2005 to avoid overfishing, Greenpeace said. ``There are too many fishing boats, especially large-scale vessels whose capacity greatly exceeds the amount of fish that can be caught on a sustainable basis,'' it said. Huge numbers of unwanted fish are caught by crews on such vessels and tossed back -- dead -- into the sea, it added.
The environmental group also called on U.N. member countries to ban coastal development unless there are assurances that a project won't damage marine life, particularly in areas where there are threatened mangrove forests.
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