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PM urged to Act on Bottom Trawling at Pac Forum

ENVIRONMENT AND CONSERVATION ORGANISATIONS of NZ Inc.

Website: www.eco.org.nz

Media Release – Tuesday 24 October 2006 – Wellington

New Zealand PM urged to Act on Bottom Trawling at Pacific Forum

The international community is waiting and watching to see whether Pacific Leaders including Prime Minister Helen Clark will support an immediate moratorium on bottom trawling or whether New Zealand will try at the Leaders’ Retreat to curb proposed controls, says Cath Wallace of the Environment and Conservation Organisations, ECO.

“We have had many inquiries from groups in other countries on what position New Zealand will take. Everyone is waiting to see whether New Zealand will support Palau’s resolution at the Pacific Island Forum for a global high seas moratorium on bottom trawling.”

“New Zealand vessels make up 90% of the high seas bottom trawling in the South Pacific.”

“Palau has already banned bottom trawling by their nationals because of the tremendous damage that trawling causes. They now want to see a moratorium on the high seas until there are effective controls to protect the environment in the high seas.

“New Zealand must not give in to industry pressure and try to avoid a moratorium in the South Pacific. People are looking for Helen Clark to show leadership on this and support the environmental option,” says Cath Wallace.

The Pacific Islands Forum Leaders go into retreat today. The key question is whether, New Zealand, which has been heavily lobbied by fishing interests, will opt for the environment, or for the fishing industry interests. New Zealand’s deepwater trawl fisheries are in serious decline because of overfishing and loss of habitat, so some New Zealand vessels have turned to the Pacific, Indian Ocean and other places to trawl.

ENDS

NOTE: The United Nations has begun discussion of whether to adopt an interim ban on bottom trawling while effective controls are developed. The UN will re-open the discussion in November, but before that, negotiations for a South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation are due 6-10 November in Hobart: so what happens at the Pacific Islands Forum will be particularly significant.

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