Fri, 18 June 2004
Wellington: Greenpeace's flagship the Rainbow Warrior has arrived in Wellington Harbour with evidence of the destructive impacts of bottom trawl fishing on the high seas.
"We've been in the Tasman Sea witnessing first hand the destruction of deep sea life through bottom trawling. Now we're here in Wellington to show the Government that urgent action is needed to protect the unique and fragile environment of the deep sea", said Greenpeace oceans campaigner Carmen Gravatt.
Once thought to be void of life, scientists now estimate between 500,000 to 100,000,000 species live in the deep sea. Many of these species are situated around seamounts - underwater mountains. Scientists consider bottom trawling to be the greatest threat to deep sea life. Greenpeace and a coalition of international environmental groups have joined an urgent call by over 1000 scientists for an immediate moratorium on high seas bottom trawling.
Last week the Rainbow Warrior crew found black coral - and endangered CITES listed species - that had been broken off by a trawl net, brought to the surface and discarded by a bottom trawler in the Tasman Sea.
"We have documented the destruction caused by bottom trawlers, including New Zealand vessels on the high seas. Bottom trawling is a global problem and it needs a global solution. A United Nations moratorium is the only option that will ensure the immediate protection of deep sea life, " concluded Ms Gravatt.
We welcome the Fisheries Minister's comments last week acknowledging that bottom trawling does "considerable damage" to the marine environment. The Government has already closed 19 seamounts in New Zealand waters to bottom trawling. Our own NIWA scientists also confirm that bottom trawling is a highly damaging practice.
A moratorium will allow time for deep sea life to be assessed and for legally binding protection and fisheries management measures to be established.
With only a short time until negotiations start on final recommendations for action to the United Nations general assembly, tie is running out for the New Zealand Government to make up their minds about how they want to respond to this issue.
Today journalists had the opportunity view footage of bottom trawling in the Tasman Sea.
On Saturday Greenpeace supporters and members of the public will be able to have free tours of the Rainbow Warrior between 10am and 4pm at Queen's Wharf.