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Neptune’s court expels bottom trawlers

Neptune’s court expels bottom trawlers

Wellington: Greenpeace joined King Neptune and his deep sea court in Wellington today as he issued a trespass notice to bottom trawlers at the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC) board meeting.

SeaFIC is funded by the fishing industry and lobbies for policies advantageous to the industry (1). Three members of the SeaFIC board represent major bottom trawl companies - Sanford, Sealord and Talleys.

Greenpeace activists dressed as deep sea creatures attended King Neptune's court outside the venue of the SeaFIC board meeting. The evidence placed before King Neptune was an ice chest with bycatch recovered by the Rainbow Warrior on its recent expedition into the Tasman Sea. The mythical lord of the ocean, King Neptune expressed his frustration at the damage being wrecked on his deep sea kingdom by bottom trawlers.

"Enough is enough," the marine noble proclaimed. "The ancient coral forests of the deep sea are being destroyed for the sake of a few fish. Your scientists have hardly begun to discover the mysterious life of my deep sea kingdom but the bottom trawlers are continuing to destroy it."

"If your land-lubber Governments won't put a stop to this senseless destruction then I will. I hereby issue a trespass notice to SeaFIC. Tell your bottom trawlers to keep out of my ocean," thundered a defiant King Neptune.

SeaFIC representatives have been outspoken in their opposition to a United Nations moratorium on high seas bottom trawling. Over 1000 marine scientists and an international coalition of environmental groups, including Greenpeace are supporting the moratorium.

Greenpeace oceans campaigner Carmen Gravatt said, "This moratorium would allow time to assess what is in the deep sea, sort out where and how fishing could occur sustainably and put in place legally binding agreements to protect the deep sea."

"SeaFIC represents all the fishing industry in New Zealand, but the destruction of the few bottom trawl companies and organisations in SeaFIC makes all the fishing industry look bad. SeaFIC should act responsibly for sustainable fisheries and support the call for a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling," concluded Ms Gravatt.

Notes to editors: (1) SeaFIC Business Plan 1 October 2003 - 30 September 2004, a power point presentation available on the SeaFIC website: http://www.seafood.co.nz/

SeaFIC is an organisation funded by a levy on member fishing companies. Its role is to support commercial stakeholders and promote the seafood industry. Much of what SeaFIC does concerns influencing government policies that impact the industry at both the national and international stage such as bottom trawling.

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