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NZ and Australia close orange roughy fishery

Hon Jim Anderton

Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity Minister of Fisheries, Minister of Forestry Associate Minister of Health Associate Minister for Tertiary Education

Progressive Leader

30 November 2007

NZ and Australia close orange roughy fishery

The New Zealand and Australian governments have agreed to close the high seas areas of the South Tasman Rise to their respective fleets from fishing orange roughy to allow the stock a chance to rebuild, Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said today.

"In less than two decades the New Zealand and Australian fishing industries have effectively mined this fishery down to unsustainable levels. The information is telling us these orange roughy stocks are a fraction of what they once were and now this area needs to be closed indefinitely to give the fishery a chance to rebuild.

"Today we know more about orange roughy and the environmental impacts of bottom-trawling and its affects on marine ecosystems. It is possible that we may not open this fishery again in the foreseeable future in order to protect the sea floor environment as well as the orange roughy that live above it.

"This will have no immediate impact on the New Zealand fishing industry, as there have been no New Zealand flagged vessels fishing in the area since 2002."

The South Tasman Rise is south of Tasmania and is partly in Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone and partly in the high seas. New Zealand and Australian vessels have historically fished the high seas areas.

New Zealand and Australia agreed to limit fishing and monitor the orange roughy stock on the South Tasman Rise in 1997 under a conservation and management agreement.

Jim Anderton said this action highlights the fragile nature of orange roughy fisheries.

"This is just the latest example of the fishing industry and previous governments having not been sufficiently cautious in ensuring catch levels are sustainable. It's the action of fishers such as those who have overfished the South Tasman Rise that demonstrate why a precautionary approach is required in fisheries management, as proposed in my Fisheries Act 1996 Amendment Bill," Jim Anderton said today.

ENDS

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