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Ban Urged To Prevent Toothfish Extinction

The Green Party has called on the Minister of Fisheries, the Hon Pete Hodgson, to negotiate an international ban on all catches of the extremely rare patagonian toothfish.

Following the seizure of two New Zealand fishing vessels this week for allegedly breaching their permits while catching the toothfish in Antarctic waters, Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons wrote to Mr Hodgson requesting an immediate cessation of all New Zealand fishing for the species.

The patagonian toothfish has been seriously overfished to the point where some scientists suggest it may be commercially extinct within two years.

Ms Fitzsimons said while she was very concerned at the alleged breach of permit by New Zealand fishing boats, she was disturbed that they held such permits in the first place.

"The patagonian toothfish is threatened because it is commercially valuable, and herein lies the problem," she said. "If nations like New Zealand do not take urgent international leadership on protecting this species its commercial value will ensure it is rapidly fished to extinction.

"I have asked Mr Hodgson to recognise the delicate predicament of this species and to act accordingly and rapidly," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"New Zealand is in a perfect position to take a strong international stance in halting the decline of an endangered species. We urge him to take our request for an end to further catches of the patagonian toothfish extremely seriously and to act immediately.

"If we do so, there is a chance the species can rebuild," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"There is no time to lose."

Ends

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