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NZ must take first step on bottom trawling ban

12 September 2006

NZ must take first step on bottom trawling ban - Greens

The Government has taken a bold step in promoting a high seas bottom trawling ban at the next United Nations General Assembly, but it will be difficult for it to promote its stance when the position in its own territorial waters is so weak, the Green Party says.

The Government has a real opportunity to lead the world on promoting a global moratorium on bottom trawling, but it can only be taken seriously if it toughens its stance on allowing the practise in our EEZ, Conservation and Fisheries Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

"The Government has so far failed to achieve any real gains in safeguarding seamounts from bottom trawling within its own EEZ. It has allowed the fisheries industry to chose the areas to be protected - areas that on closer examination turned out to be of little value to the fisheries industry, because they were too rough, too deep or already fished out.

"Today's announcement proposes that a moratorium would cover the seas outside areas where Regional Fisheries Management Organisations existed or were under negotiation. In order to get support for inclusion of bottom trawling bans into those RFMOs New Zealand would have to ensure its own house was in order first.

"Just because the Government has described this as 'a strong position' doesn't make it so. It has to be beyond reproach itself before it can be convincing to others. A truly strong position is one that will provide real protections in international and domestic waters.

"The Government has acknowledged that little is known about the seafloor and its inhabitants and their role in marine ecosystems, so every day that fishers are allowed to destroy it with their bottom trawling gear is another day that unknown species will be obliterated." Mrs Turei says.


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