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Bottom trawling 'ban' is cynical PR spin

6 July 2006

Bottom trawling 'ban' is cynical PR spin

News that four large fishing companies, including New Zealand's Sealord, are to voluntarily cease the destructive practice of bottom trawling in parts of the Southern India Ocean has drawn a sceptical response from Green Party Conservation Spokesperson Metiria Turei.

"In theory, it is great news that fishing companies are taking the initiative and imposing voluntary standards on themselves in this area, as any measures to reduce or end the harm causing by bottom trawling in the long term will need industry buy-in if they are to be truly successful," Mrs Turei says.

"However, while it may sound positive at first, it is hard to get excited about this announcement when you consider that the area in question is already severely over-fished. It is not much of a sacrifice to cease fishing of an area with no fish left in it.

"In fact, it is hard to see this initiative as anything more than an attempt to deflect the international community from imposing any real restrictions, like a ban on bottom trawling altogether.

"It is disappointing but not surprising that Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton seems to has bought the fishing companies' spin and welcomed this announcement. He is also an enthusiastic proponent of the voluntary closure of 30 percent of New Zealand waters to bottom trawling announced earlier this year, despite the fact that this is a measure which will fail to protect the highest risk areas and which also applies mainly to already depleted zones.

"If we are ever to see any real action to halt the depletion of fish stocks and irreparable damage to rare coral reefs and underwater eco-systems caused by bottom trawling, we need a Minister who takes long term sustainability of our fisheries seriously, not just short term gains sought by the industry.

"If these companies announced a voluntary ban on bottom trawling in an area where it would actually make a difference, I would be the first to congratulate them. As it is, there is a long way to go yet," Mrs Turei says.


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