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Ross Sea threatened by another fishing vessel disaster


Ross Sea threatened by another fishing vessel disaster

The Korean fishing vessel on fire (the Jung Woo 2) is the second fishing vessel in trouble this season in the special Ross Sea area of Antarctica say the Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ (ECO).

Fishing in the Ross Sea is inherently risky because of the ice conditions and both the environment and the fishing crews are being put at risk, says ECO Co-Chair Cath Wallace. “This is an area that has been marked out by the international community for particular protection.”

“This is the third vessel in serious trouble in the Ross Sea in two years.”

Cath Wallace said the Korean vessel is fishing for toothfish, a high market value species sold to wealthy people eating at restaurants in the USA. “Fishing crews are being put at extreme risk from fishing in extreme conditions.”

The Ross Sea has been identified by several international processes as one of the last largely intact large ocean ecosystems that needs protection. Both the Antarctic Treaty System’s Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and the IUCN, the global body for conservation have identified the Ross Sea as needing protection. It is time this protection was provided, said Barry Weeber for ECO.

Cath Wallace said removing the toothfish is unbalancing the ecosystem and is putting the Ross Sea at risk from inevitable marine accidents. “The international community would be much better served if the Ross Sea were protected and the natural values given priority over market values.”

Companies fish in the Ross Sea for a couple of months a year but the crews, the environment and the Search and Rescue authorities carry the risks. It is dreadful that three crew are missing and that others were at risk on this boat.

For the second time in a season New Zealand search and rescue authorities are having to mobilise to help fishing crews in the Ross Sea where New Zealand. The risks and losses do not stack up when you consider the value of human life and the environment, said Cath Wallace of ECO.
ends

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