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Image copyright © Ministry of Fisheries
Monday 6 June 2005, Auckland: As the UN meeting to discuss ocean issues begins in New York, Greenpeace releases this image today to illustrate the destruction by bottom trawling. (It was obtained under the Official Information Act in New Zealand.)
This piece of gorgonian coral, bigger than the two men attempting to untangle it from their fishing nets, was more than 500 years old. It was destroyed by one of the most destructive fishing practices ever used, known as bottom trawling, and was dumped by the New Zealand vessel which dragged it up.
Greenpeace joins over 1000 marine scientists and over 40 environmental groups in its call for a moratorium on bottom trawling in international waters.
Bottom trawling involves large underwater nets up to 40 metres wide that are dragged along the sea floor. Huge chains or rollers attached to the front of the nets destroy everything in the their path, including coral forests, as well as sponges, sharks, giant crabs, boulder fields, and rocky reefs. This type of fishing is considered by scientists to be the greatest threat to deep sea biodiversity and results in high levels of incidentally caught species, known as bykill.
“This isn’t fishing. This is extinction”, said Greenpeace oceans campaigner Shirley Atatagi-Coutts.