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Progress with voluntary ban on bottom trawling

Progress with voluntary ban on bottom trawling

Minister of Fisheries, Jim Anderton said today that the proposal by four international fishing companies, including New Zealand's Sealord, to stop bottom trawling in areas of the Southern Indian Ocean was a significant and positive step. He called the reaction of Greenpeace and the Greens to the announcement as extreme and disappointing.

"The area we are talking about, in terms of the preclusion from bottom trawling, is 309,000 square kilometers of ocean floor. New Zealand would support this proposal as an interim measure under the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement, on the basis that the proposal is subjected to independent scientific assessment and modified, if deemed appropriate. In October, the voluntary moratorium by our local fishing companies, on bottom trawling of 31 percent of New Zealand waters, will more than likely be made compulsory, after similar independent scientific assessment. These are definitely constructive and positive steps forward.

"I would have thought that groups who profess to care for the environment would welcome it also. If there is no light at the end of the tunnel, broad-based support from New Zealanders starts to melt away. Greenpeace spokespeople, who talk in terms of "probably" and "suspects", don't inspire confidence that their assertions are evidence or scientifically based," Jim Anderton said.

"Greenpeace is calling for a global moratorium on bottom trawling, which the Labour-Progressive Government has repeatedly said it would support if there was sufficient international support to make such a moratorium practical and enforceable. There is no such international consensus at this time, nor is one likely in the near future. Therefore, every step toward greater protection of the sea floor should be welcomed and the Government does so.

"As we have seen with the recent vote on whaling at the International Whaling Commission, countries are finely balanced on fishing issues. In the real world of internationally competing forces, we need to acknowledge steps that make progress and foster constructive relationships to get things done. It's therefore critically important that we give credit where credit is due," Jim Anderton said.

Ends

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