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The slaughter at sea continues

3 August 2006

The slaughter at sea continues

Despite years of promises and reassurances by the Government new figures show the numbers of sea creatures accidentally slaughtered by squid fishing boats remains unacceptably high, the Green Party says.

Reports from Fisheries Ministry observers on squid boats in the SQ6T region show that in just two months of this year's fishing season more than 60 birds and animals were needlessly killed, Conservation Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

"The actual numbers of deaths are obviously far higher as these reports are just from the boats with observers aboard.

"Many of the 66 reported by-catch deaths in February and March, include albatross and Hooker's Sea Lions, which are listed as threatened and endangered species.

Over the past three years observers reported the deaths of almost 340 seabird, sea lion and seal deaths caused by squid fishing. However, despite promises from various fisheries ministers, little has changed.

"Last year the fleet was ordered back to land because many ships were flouting a voluntary code of practice, but it seems little has changed this season, despite the greater use of bird scaring devices and other mitigation methods.

"New regulations were put in place this year to require the industry to use these bird scaring methods, however, while these devices have proved to be somewhat effective, what is needed is for the Minister to also urgently put precautionary limits on the number of deaths allowed.

"This would mean the season would be closed immediately once the limit had been reached preventing any further chance of accidental deaths.

"New Zealand's farmers are not allowed to kill kiwis so why should the fishing industry be allowed to slaughter equally endangered sea birds in their harvest of a multi-million dollar product.

"Our sea birds and creatures are too precious to risk losing," Mrs Turei says.

ENDS

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