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Positive message in UN fishing resolutions

22 November 2004 Media Statement

Positive message in UN fishing resolutions

United Nations resolutions on bottom trawling passed at the General Assembly send positive messages on the conservation of marine life beneath the high seas, Acting Foreign Minister Marian Hobbs, Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope and Conservation Minister Chris Carter said today.

"The resolutions provide important directives on conservation of high-seas biodiversity," the ministers said. "They may not have met the conservation movement’s call for a global moratorium on bottom-trawling on the high seas, but they are most definitely a step in the right direction."

Bottom trawling is a fishing practice that involves dragging nets along the ocean bottom, often damaging important undersea features and habitats along the way. It is a widely used fishing method employed by most fishing states.

The UN resolutions call upon states "to take action urgently, and consider on a case-by-case basis ….the interim prohibition of destructive fishing practices, including bottom-trawling that has adverse impacts on vulnerable marine ecosystems, including seamounts, hydrothermal vents and cold-water corals located beyond national jurisdiction, until such a time as appropriate conservation and management measures have been adopted in accordance with international law".

New Zealand worked hard throughout the negotiations to promote elements of its multi-pronged strategy on the protection of high-seas biodiversity, recently agreed by Cabinet, the ministers said.

The delegation also pushed hard for an annual General Assembly review of progress on the establishment of interim protection measures and improved regional fisheries management.

"We had to settle for a review in two years, but the issue is now firmly on the international agenda," the ministers said.

In his speech on the resolutions, New Zealand's Permanent Representative to the UN, Don MacKay, stressed the need to assess progress ahead of a formal review.

"Given the urgency of the issue, New Zealand looks forward to the opportunity to check progress on interim measures and on improvements to regional management arrangements next year, at the sixtieth session of the United Nations General Assembly," Mr MacKay said.

ENDS

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