GREENPEACE MEDIA RELEASE
Suva, Fiji Islands, November 11, 2006. Greenpeace has called on the Fijian Government to take firm action against a Belizean flagged Chinese high seas bottom trawler by revoking its permit to discharge its catch in the Port of Suva for transhipment to China.
Greenpeace said the Chang Xing engages in unregulated fishing operations using the highly destructive practice of deep-sea bottom trawling (1) in international waters of the Tasman Sea and Southwest Pacific near New Zealand.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific oceans-team leader, Nilesh Goundar, said the vessel has been using Suva as a base for bunkering and supplies since 2004, but is now being allowed by the Fiji government to discharge its catch of orange roughy.
“We are convinced that the Chang Xing's 180-185 tonne of catch has been fished from the seas beyond New Zealand’s Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) and our Greenpeace office in New Zealand has been alerted and we've also written to the New Zealand High Commission in Fiji as well,” Mr Goundar said.
Greenpeace has written to the Fiji Government reminding it of the recent Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) leaders' meeting which called for a United Nations moratorium on high seas bottom trawling in international waters where no proper authority exists to regulate fishing activities (2), which is the case in the South Pacific Ocean.
“But now we find the Chang Xing with orange roughy in its hold is in our Port awaiting buyers from New Zealand who will sell to China. It presents an golden opportunity for the Fijian Government to act in the spirit of the PIF Declaration on Deep Sea Bottom Trawling, and revoke the Chang Xing's permit to offload its catch,” Mr Goundar said.
Mr Goundar said this oppurtunity presents itself to the Government to put firm actions in accordance with the PIF Declaration on Deep Sea Bottom Trawling.
“ We request the Government’s action to close our ports to fishing vessels that practice unsustainable and destructive fishing methods like HSBT,” he said.
Mr Goundar said the United Nations General Assembly final negotiations on high seas bottom trawling occurs this week and while the recent South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation meeting in Australia culminated in very disappointing actions from the European Commission, this therefore leads to questions on the sincerity of the European Union’s intentions for Fisheries Partnership Agreements in our region.
However Mr Goundar commended the stand of Fiji Mission at the UN and the strong stand they will be making to Iceland as the representative of the Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum.
“We humbly urge that all avenues be pursued so this vessel is also made an example of, and that the regional position on high seas bottom trawling is safeguarded,” Mr Goundar said.
“The world continues to watch out for the actions of the Pacific region and their resolute actions to ensure the conservation of our oceanic environment for now and the future. The Government of Fiji’s current chairmanship of the Pacific Island Leaders Forum is a key avenue in which to strongly maintain the momentum of oceanic conservation.”
1. This is a destructive fishing practise with enormous trawl nets. Some nets drag along the sea floor and can have mouths the length of a rugby field. Some are weighed across the bottom with heavy steel rollers that indiscriminately smash and crush corals, and swallow everything in their path. http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/news-and-events/news/deep-sea/deep-sea-pacific-win
2. Attached is the Declaration of Deep Sea Bottom Trawling to Protect Diversity in the High Seas.