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Bottom trawling ban won't net all the problems

8 June 2006

Bottom trawling ban won't net all the problems

The planned closure of 30 percent of the waters around New Zealand to bottom trawling is a good start, but must not be the end of the matter, the Green Party says.

Tomorrow (Friday) sees the deadline for submissions on the accord.

Greens' Fisheries Spokesperson Metiria Turei says she hopes that Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton does not see this as a one-off when it comes to protecting the seabed from bottom trawling.

"The Government must not agree that it will be restricted from increasing the area covered by bottom trawling bans in future," she says.

"The selection of the areas for closure must be done independently on the best available information to ensure that those of most significant ecological value are protected, not just those who have the least value in economic terms.

"This accord must ensure that the 18 areas already protected retain their present protection.

"The current proposal from the industry would allow for the reopening of one area already protected from trawling and would in fact allow mid-water trawling over the other protected areas with a buffer zone between the trawl and the sea bottom. The industry has not, however disclosed how big that buffer zone is," Mrs Turei says.

"This is particularly concerning as about 50 percent of mid water trawls end up damaging the seabed. This would also pose enforcement issues as it is difficult to tell whether a vessel is bottom trawling or mid water trawling. These areas must be trawl free areas not just bottom trawl free.

"Bottom trawling is one of the most damaging of fishing methods. Scraping machinery along the seabed effectively clear-fells huge undersea forests of ancient corals. It does not make any sense to allow this destruction to continue," Mrs Turei says.

ENDS

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