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Australia Heads Off NZ to Lead on Bottom Trawling

Australia Heads Off New Zealand to Lead on Bottom Trawling

Monday 25 September 2006: Greenpeace NZ welcomes the Australian Government announcement calling for the United Nations to take measures to stop bottom trawling in international waters and says it's a shame New Zealand has been left behind.

"Australia has taken a leadership role to negotiate a meaningful outcome at the United Nations that secures the protection of deep-sea life in international waters," said Bunny McDiarmid, Executive Director of Greenpeace NZ. "Both Australia and Palau lead the world with the positions they will take to the UN next week."

"Unfortunately New Zealand's main weakness is in regard to areas of international waters where fisheries management is under negotiation. In these areas our Government calls for measures by 2008 – without specifying which month or what kind of measures - and doesn't stipulate that a moratorium on bottom trawling in international waters will come in place if the deadline is not met," said McDiarmid.

"In contrast, Australia wants measures in place by 31 July 2007 or an interim ban will apply. Palau requires an immediate prohibition on bottom trawling in these areas."

"Basically, the New Zealand Government is pushing for a larger timeframe that would allow bottom trawlers to keep destroying deep sea life in international waters for longer".

"The Australian Government is now clearly acknowledging the destructive environmental impacts of bottom trawling, the need for immediate action and the need for long-term protection and genuine sustainable management," she said.

"It's a shame the New Zealand's Government's actions aren't as strong."

Following three years of urgent calls to action, the United Nations General Assembly will finally begin negotiating measures to protect marine life in the deep-sea on 4-5 October leading to a formal adoption of measures in November. A number of countries are already committed to supporting a UN moratorium and include Brazil, Chile, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and Vanuatu.

Scientists have only just started to explore the complex world far beneath the surface of the oceans, discovering new species and ancient coral reefs. Bottom trawling is widely recognized as the most destructive of fishing methods. Heavily weighted bottom trawls are indiscriminate and scour and devour everything in their path. Their use has been compared to clearfelling a native forest to catch all the tui.

More than 1500 marine scientists form over 60 countries have signed a letter to support an immediate UN moratorium on bottom trawling in international waters.

ENDS

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