Letter: Save our coral

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The Independent Culture
Sir: John Prescott's call for a UN body to "tackle the threats to oceans from global warming and pollution" is admirable ("Britain wants UN body to save reefs", 10 December). It is particularly admirable given that one of their first ports of call should be the UK.

Recent discoveries have found incredible coral reefs on biogenic mounds below the surface of the north-east Atlantic off the west coast of Scotland. Little is known about these coral habitats and the ecology of the species around them.

However, it is looking increasingly likely that before much more is known about these sites they will be destroyed or degraded as a result of Department of Trade and Industry action. While Mr Prescott is preaching to the UN, his colleague Peter Mandelson is busy licensing the whole of the north- east Atlantic for new oil development.

The new oil developments licensed by the DTI threaten the UK's ocean coral through global warming and pollution. The new oil produced cannot be burned if we are to prevent potentially damaging the coral through climate change. But long before then, the coral is likely to have been smothered by drill cuttings and polluted by oil spills.

John Prescott should bear in mind that "bringing the message home" means clearing up your own backyard as much as preaching to the international community.


Greenpeace UK

London N1