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Society Support US Grocery Ban On Orange Roughy

The Forest and Bird Protection Society today welcomed the decision of a major United States grocery chain, Wild Oats, not to stock orange roughy.

Society spokesperson, Barry Weeber, said the decision was a significant step forward in the promotion of sustainable fish populations and recognised the dire state of many orange roughy populations.

"Wild Oats is a major United States grocery chain with more than 75 stores throughout the US. The company has decided not to sell orange roughy, patagonian toothfish, north Atlantic swordfish or marlin because of their plummeting populations."

Mr Weeber said the state of orange roughy populations in New Zealand waters was appalling. "Only one of the populations is thought to be above sustainable population levels and two stocks had been reduced to just 7 percent of their unfished size."

"The New Zealand government and the fishing industry must answer for the poor state of our orange roughy populations."

Mr Weeber said Ministers and the fishing industry has opposed taking action to cut catch limits or only agreed when the stock was significantly over-fished.

"Consumer pressure in important markets like the United States may force New Zealand to practice rather than just preach sustainable fisheries management.

"Deepwater fishing for orange roughy and other species is leaving a terrible legacy for the future. Fish nets are not only killing long-lived orange roughy but a range of other species including corals which can be up to several metres high."

Mr Weeber said that while orange roughy have been aged at well over 100 years, these coral features removed by trawlers even older - gorgonian corals have been aged by NIWA at over 500 years and bamboo corals at over 300 years."

"It will take centuries, if not millennia, for the marine environment to recover from the impacts of trawling for orange roughy and deepwater oreos."


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