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Parties urged to back new marine strategy

24 August 2005 - Wellington

Media release for immediate use

Political parties urged to back new marine strategy

Contact: Barry Weeber, Senior Researcher, 04 801 2212, 021 627 329

Forest and Bird today called on all political parties to sign up to the Government's new strategy to address the environmental effects of fishing. The Government announced its strategy at the Marine Sciences Society Conference.

"There has been cross-party support for the Biodiversity and Biosecurity Strategies. It would be wonderful to see cross-party support for a strategy to reduce the environmental effects of fishing," said Forest and Bird's senior researcher Barry Weeber.

"Commercial fishing has a serious impact on New Zealand's marine environment and we're pleased to see that this is to be addressed. Each year thousands of seabirds, hundreds of seals and over one hundred sea lions are killed unnecessarily by poorly managed commercial fishing," he said.

"The adoption of this strategy nine years after the Fisheries Act required the ecological impact of fishing to be taken into account has taken a lot longer than we would have liked. But Forest and Bird is very pleased to see that progress is now being made," he said.

"Forest and Bird looks forward to working with the Ministry of Fisheries to make progress on the detail of the strategy. Effective implementation will require robust management systems and standards. We will seek to ensure that those standards provide the world-class level of protection that our world-class marine environment requires," he said.

Notes:

The strategy covers the impacts of bottom trawling on the seafloor, the deaths of seabirds, marine mammals and turtles, and the impact of fishing on threatened species such as sharks.

Fishing is currently the human activity that causes the greatest impact on the marine environment surrounding New Zealand. Each year:

* Around 10,000 seabirds, hundreds of seals, over 100 sea lions and many dolphins are killed in New Zealand fisheries.

* Corals and gorgonians hundreds of years old and other special sea floor animals are destroyed over huge areas of New Zealands continental shelf by bottom trawling.

* Thousands of sharks are caught in New Zealand longline fisheries. Many have their fins cut off and are dumped over the side.

* Dredging for oysters and scallops destroys habitats and reduced species diversity around New Zealand. Large glass coral (Bryozoans) reefs in Foveaux Strait have been destroyed by dredging for oysters.

ENDS

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