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Govt proposes soft stance at UN on bottom trawling

*Slippery Slope for deep sea life as Govt proposes soft stance at UN on bottom trawling*

*Tuesday 12 September 2006:* While it is good to see the New Zealand Government taking up the global issue of bottom trawling, their position needs to be strengthened to protect deep sea life in international waters according to Greenpeace, Forest and Bird, and ECO.

“In 2004, the United Nations gave the world two years to take urgent action on this issue, and for the New Zealand Government to now demand another two years is absurd. 2008 is too long to wait,” says Mike Hagler Greenpeace oceans campaigner, “Their proposal allows two more years to plunder and destroy what they can”.

“What the Government has put forward is not bold – it will only advocate to protect one third of international waters at the UN. For the other two-thirds, the Government is allowing a loophole big enough to drag a bottom trawl net through,” said Hagler.

“We want to see New Zealand and Australia take leadership roles at the UN negotiating table. They need to propose a moratorium on bottom trawling in international waters that is immediate, comprehensive and effective and oppose any loopholes,” Hagler added.

“We don’t want to see New Zealand left behind”, said Kirstie Knowles of Forest and Bird. “Yesterday, Kenya and Cambodia pledged their support for a moratorium, joining many other countries including Brazil, the UK, Sweden, Germany, Portugal, Indonesia, Chile and Pacific nations”.

A UNGA Secretary General report in July stated that Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOS) had failed over the past two years to take the urgent action necessary to protect deep sea life in international waters.

“Our government is relying on RFMOs to get the job done, when it is clear that they are failing to protect deep sea life,” added Knowles.

“The New Zealand position that Ministers announced today is weak, and a weak starting point is a slippery slope. At UN negotiations it is essential to start from a position of strength than a position of weakness," said Barry Weeber of ECO. “The sooner we get a moratorium on bottom trawling in international waters, the sooner the destruction of ancient coral forests and the unknown worlds of the deep will be protected.”

“Allowing two more years for RFMOs under negotiation to take action will further put the negotiations in the hands of fisheries agencies and proposals from the fishing industry for unscientific ‘conservation’ publicity proposals. Scientists are saying deep sea species are being pushed to extinction before they are even named. There are no second chances with extinction,” concluded Weeber.

ENDS

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