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There's more than one way to save our seas Jim

24 November 2004

There's more than one way to save our seas Jim

The Green Party is calling on Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton to actively lobby his counterparts in other countries to support a global moratorium on bottom trawling on the high seas.

Mr Anderton, whose party committed before the election to "support and actively promote a global moratorium on bottom trawling on the high seas", confirmed today that a moratorium is the best way to protect endangered marine ecosystems on the sea floor until there are international rules in place. However, he believes that there is no point in proceeding until there is majority support for this in the United Nations.

"It takes leadership to achieve change in international thinking and this country could provide that. New Zealand will have an opportunity to influence international thinking about bottom trawling next week when the United Nations General Assembly discusses this issue.

Bottom trawling is used to fish orange roughy and deep sea dory - also known as oreo. This method scrapes the seabed bare of life. As well as netting orange roughy and deep-sea dory, bottom trawlers also kill non-target species, including deepwater sharks such as seal shark, Baxter's and shovel-nosed dogfish, soft corals, tall sponges, bryozoans, gorgonia and other corals that have been aged at over 500 years.

"It is equivalent to clear-felling a forest to catch a few deer," Ms Fitzsimons says.

In the meantime, the Green Party urges Mr Anderton to speed up development of a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation, which will ban the practice in South Pacific waters.

"I am encouraged that we are taking this step, but this must be done with urgency," Ms Fitzsimons says. The Conservation Department's website commits the Government to work with like-minded countries at the UN General Assembly to develop support for interim protection while coverage of Regional Fisheries Management Organisations is improved.

"But Neptune's fork had more than one prong. I urge the Government to show leadership in developing an international consensus for an interim moratorium until RFMO rules are in place, which could be years away.

"It was very disappointing that in October New Zealand did not support Palau's call for a moratorium at the Pacific Islands Forum. I look forward the explanation for this, which Mr Anderton has promised to provide.

ENDS

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