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One more year could be too late for toothfish

One more year could be too late for toothfish

18 July 2000, Auckland, New Zealand

The New Zealand Government’s announcement today - that they may advocate within a year for a global moratorium on fishing for toothfish - could be too late for toothfish in the Southern Ocean, said Greenpeace.

“The fact that the Government will be seeking permission for three New Zealand vessels to catch toothfish in the Ross Sea this summer suggests that this Government is still bowing to pressure from a few fishing companies. A moratorium and trade ban is urgently needed to save Antarctica's toothfish and endangered seabirds right across the Southern Ocean” said Tricia Allen, Campaign Director for Greenpeace in New Zealand.

“Time is running out for the toothfish. Scientists predict that patagonian toothfish in some areas of the Southern Ocean will be commercially extinct in two years if the pirate fishery is not stopped” said Tricia Allen.

“Although we're relieved that the Government is at last stating that it will consider a moratorium and trade ban on toothfish, today’s announcement that New Zealand will wait another year is not good enough for the fragile Southern Ocean ecosystem. It’s well known that toothfish and endangered albatross species have already been decimated by years of illegal fishing. If this Government genuinely wants to stop illegal fishing, there is one clear way to do this – and that is not by pushing for additional fishing licenses this summer. Instead, New Zealand should go to the CCAMLR meeting this November with a strong stance pushing for a moratorium and trade ban” said Tricia Allen.

Today’s announcement keeps the door open for "exploratory commercial" fishing for another year, and claims that a tightly managed fishery "still offers the best hope for controlling the exploitation of toothfish. Meanwhile, the owners of two New Zealand licenced vessels are currently before the courts on charges relating to the failure to complete research required under their permit during last year's toothfish fishing season.

Greenpeace questions how toothfish stocks will be protected if the Government gains licenses for three New Zealand vessels to catch toothfish this summer.

"Pirate fishing has long raged out of control across the Southern Ocean despite the presence of CCAMLR licensed fishing vessels. While the illegal fishery continues to make a killing out of toothfish, the legal fishery is simply another threat to an already stressed fish species and ecosystem. Meanwhile, the presence of legally caught fish on the market continues to hide those fish caught illegally” said Tricia Allen.

ENDS

For further information, contact Tricia Allen

on 09 630 6317 or 025 790 817.

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