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Industry supports effective fisheries management

New Zealand seafood industry supports effective management of fisheries in the high seas

12 September 2006

“The New Zealand seafood industry does not support a moratorium on bottom trawling. We support management of fisheries,” says New Zealand Seafood Industry Council Chief Executive Owen Symmans in response to Government’s announcement today regarding New Zealand’s stance on bottom trawling.

“We are committed to being responsible and that is why we actively support and encourage high seas fisheries management through RFMOs (regional fisheries management organizations).”

Mr Symmans said that the industry had already signaled that it would support interim measures. It had voluntarily offered extensions of its BPA (benthic protection area) proposals into the high seas.

“Effective management can employ a range of tools which could include closed areas, protected areas, as well as catch quotas and so forth. We do not support the use of moratoria as a management tool.

“While the Government’s announcement today does not immediately impact on New Zealand flagged deepwater fishing operations, this decision marks the Government’s commitment to changing the international rules that govern fisheries. This will jeopardize the rights of responsible flagged vessels to fish in some areas.”

Bottom trawling is an important fishing method worldwide. It continues to be accepted in effectively managed areas of the high seas, he said.

“With effective management, the method of fishing is not the issue.”

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

New Zealand seafood company leading the way (5 July 2006)

Press release by NZ Seafood Industry Council, 5 July 2006

The NZ Seafood Industry Council congratulates Sealord for their participation in the world-first proposal to voluntarily close areas in the high-seas of the Indian Ocean to deepwater trawling. Sealord is one of four major international fishing companies to propose the closures, which are equivalent in total area to almost the size of Norway.

“This is a bold move and demonstrates that New Zealand companies can proactively work with others to protect marine bio-diversity,” said Alastair Macfarlane, Trade and Information Manager of New Zealand Seafood Industry Council said.

The voluntary closures to high seas deepwater trawling in the Indian Ocean follow on from the New Zealand seafood industry’s own proposal earlier this year to close over 30% of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to bottom trawling.

“The Indian Ocean announcement is timed to coincide with a meeting at the FAO in Rome to form the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement. New Zealand companies have been involved in fishing the high seas of the Indian Ocean for several years. We strongly support countries working collaboratively to manage fish stocks sustainably and effectively for all.

“We welcome the development of regional arrangements that can lead to forming effective Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMO’s),” said Mr Macfarlane.

NZ Seafood Industry Council in favour of protecting bio-diversity (15 Feb 2006)

Press release by NZ Seafood Industry Council, 15 Feb 2006

The New Zealand Seafood Industry Council supports ‘the greatest marine bio-diversity protection proposal that has been presented in the world,’ says Chief Executive Owen Symmans. The Deepwater Trawling companies group’s proposal of Benthic Protection Areas (BPAs) would close 31% of the EEZ to bottom trawl fishing.

“This is about protecting bio-diversity and it’s an incredibly bold and solid move to achieve that. The areas protected represent every category of the marine classifications within the EEZ and are - mostly - completely untouched - so they will remain in their natural state in perpetuity,” Mr Symmans said. “I think that’s astoundingly good news.”

The proposal went further, to suggest some areas in international waters also be considered for protection, but this would be determined subject to the development of a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation for the South Pacific.

“Clearly we’d need consensus from all parties in the RFMO - but I believe that New Zealand has set a clear precedent and we have an excellent opportunity to demonstrate our commitment as a country to protecting bio-diversity.”

“We hope that people recognise the vision behind this initiative, and we hope that they’ll gain a proper, accurate perspective - only 7% of the EEZ deeper than 200 metres has ever been bottom trawled. We can make sure that 30% - most of it still in its complete and natural state - will never be bottom trawled. Are you for that or not?

“We’ve had great support from all the people and groups who are intelligent enough to understand that this is about bio-diversity and protecting it for the future. You’re either for that or against it. We’re for it,” he said.

Massive Closures to Protect Bio-diversity Proposed by NZ Seafood Industry (14 Feb 2006)

Press release by NZ Seafood Industry Council , 14 Feb 2006

The seafood industry announced today a proposal to close off Benthic Protection Areas (BPAs) to bottom trawl fishing, said the managing director of Sanford Limited, Eric Barratt. Mr Barratt was speaking on behalf of the New Zealand companies involved in deepwater bottom trawling. “This is by far the largest total closure to bottom trawl fishing within an EEZ ever undertaken in the world.”

“The industry has decided to take the initiative by proposing the closure of areas that equate to 31 percent of our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to bottom trawling to protect the bio-diversity of the benthic environment. We are proposing the establishment of 30 BPAs,” Mr Barratt said today. The proposed BPAs are geographically representative of all deepwater marine environment classifications.

The proposed areas are huge, Mr Barratt says. “To put that in perspective, the total areas to be closed are more than four times the land mass of New Zealand, and significantly larger than the EEZs of the British Isles, Argentina, Spain or Iceland.

“This proposal demonstrates industry recognition of the need to protect the bio-diversity of a largely pristine and untouched benthic environment. This is a bold move which we hope the government can implement very quickly,” he said.

The fishing industry is a major contributor to the New Zealand economy, in terms of food production and generating economic wealth. This announcement will give the public of New Zealand certainty that important benthic areas will be protected and will enable the industry to continue in a sustainable way, Mr Barratt said.

“The closures will definitely limit the opportunities for exploratory fishing, but it is worth the price. Our aim is to protect previously untouched areas to ensure that they will remain pristine for generations to come. While that means that potential income from that area has been lost, fishing can continue where it currently occurs, but the public will have confidence that important bio-diversity in benthic environment areas will be protected from ever being impacted by bottom trawling - the value of that is almost impossible to determine.

“Importantly, this proposal provides areas for benthic protection in international waters outside the EEZ and we recommend that government consider these proposals in the establishment of a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation for the South Pacific.

“The Minister’s strong support for this initiative is welcomed and we pledge our support to working with the government to ensure implementation of the proposal.”

Less than 10 percent of New Zealand's EEZ is bottom trawled (13 Feb 2006)

Press Release by NZ Seafood Industry Council, 13 Feb 2006

The New Zealand Seafood Industry has never denied that bottom trawling has some impact on the ocean floor, said Owen Symmans, Chief Executive of the NZ Seafood Industry Council, today in response to Greenpeace claims. Within the EEZ less than 10% has been bottom trawled.

“We agree that mechanisms must be found to protect bio-diversity, but there has to be a balance between sustainable utilization and protection. A total ban on bottom trawling would not achieve this objective. That’s why it’s important in the high seas to establish a regional fisheries management organization (RFMO) in the South Pacific region to ensure a balance is achieved.”

There is a lot of misinformation about bottom trawling, Mr Symmans says. “It does not destroy the ocean eco-system. Less than 10% of the EEZ has ever been bottom trawled, and even then the impact varies depending upon the nature of the ocean floor.“

Bottom trawling is a major method of fishing worldwide. In New Zealand it is estimated that $800million of the $1.2billion earned from the seafood industry in 2003 was from species caught by trawling and related methods.

"All food production results in some change to the environment," Mr Symmans said. "As an industry we provide export revenues, jobs and food. We are realistic and open to the need to manage environmental issues to ensure a sustainable renewable resource. It’s in the best interests of the nation - and the industry. Greenpeace seems unable to grasp these facts and from all accounts looks like they want to shut down one of this country’s vital sustainable industries."

ENDS


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