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NZ bottom trawlers exposed on high seas

NZ bottom trawlers exposed on high seas

9 June 2004 High Seas: The role of the New Zealand bottom trawl industry on the high seas will come under close scrutiny in New York, after Greenpeace discovered three New Zealand bottom trawlers fishing on the high seas yesterday.

The Rainbow Warrior located the Amaltal Voyager, Westbay, and Corsair around 350 miles off the coast of New Zealand on the Northwest Challenger Plateau.

While Greenpeace activists documented the fishing activities on the high seas, a Greenpeace delegation began talks at the United Nations to secure a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling. (1)

Greenpeace campaigner, Carmen Gravatt, aboard the Rainbow Warrior acknowledged the pressure the New Zealand Government would now be under. "The New Zealand Government has yet to say whether it will support or oppose a moratorium but they must be feeling the heat in New York at the moment."

"Unregulated high seas bottom trawling is destroying the rich biodiversity of the deep sea. These vessels are fishing without regard for the consequences of their actions."

Greenpeace pointed out that one of the fishing boats fishing on the high seas was the Amaltal Fishing Company, which is a shareholder of the Orange Roughy Management Company (ORMC). Early last week, George Clements, the Chief Executive of the ORMC denied on a Radio New Zealand interview that any of its members operated in international waters. (2)

More than a thousand scientists are supporting the call for a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling, because of the vast amount of marine life that is destroyed by this fishing technique. Many species have not even been described or discovered before they are fished out, while ancient corals and sponges are decimated, with little chance of recovery.

"There are only a small number of nations responsible for this environmental devastation," said Karen Sack, Greenpeace International Oceans Policy Advisor, at the United Nations. "While they reap rich rewards, the biodiversity of the least protected area of this planet is being wiped out. That is why the United Nations must impose an immediate moratorium on bottom trawling."

Contacts: Campaigner onboard the Rainbow Warrior, Carmen Gravatt: Satellite Phone: +872 324 453 510 Land based Oceans Campaigner, Vanessa Atkinson: 021 565 165 Communications officer, Dean Baigent-Mercer: 021 790 817

Notes to Editors (1) The 5th meeting of the United Nations Informal Consultation on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (UNICPOLOS) is being held at the United Nations in New York. It ends on Friday 11th June. The focus of the meeting is on the conservation and management of the biological diversity of the seabed in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

(2) Radio New Zealand, "Morning Report" 7-9am, Tuesday 1 June 2004. "What they're talking about is about a moratorium outside our 200 mile zone in international waters. Our company doesn't operate there. We only operate within New Zealand's (exclusive economic zone)…", George Clements, Orange Roughy Management Company.

(3) Greenpeace's demands to protect the high seas are also echoed by an international environmental alliance, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, which is also present in New York.

More information on BOTTOM TRAWLING is available at: http://www.greenpeace.org.nz/deepsea

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