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New Report And Map Shows Aotearoa’s Deep-sea Corals Vastly Unprotected From Trawling

A new report and interactive map released by Greenpeace today, details the extent of unique wildlife found on Aotearoa’s seamounts, and how unprotected they are from bottom trawling.

The sixty page report finds that the rarest, most unique corals in Aotearoa are found in areas outside of existing marine protection, and live at depths and in locations where commercial trawling continues.

The accompanying map, produced using data layers collected from NIWA, DOC and MPI, reveals where Aotearoa’s seamounts are, the unique species that have been found living there, and shows in no uncertain terms that bottom trawling methods overlap with them.

Greenpeace Aotearoa spokesperson Ellie Hooper says the report should be a red flag to the Government, who just this week have said they oppose destructive and unsustainable fishing methods that harm vulnerable marine habitats.

"What this report shows is that some of the rarest, most unique corals found in Aotearoa are vastly unprotected from bottom trawling," she says.

"The places where these corals live and create ocean communities directly overlaps with where bottom trawling is happening, we know that because of the coral that’s been dragged up in their nets."

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The report details some of Aotearoa’s 196 endemic coral species, most of which are slow-growing and highly fragile. And while some of these corals are technically listed as ‘protected’ by DOC, trawling is still permitted where they live.

"Current protected status means nothing for these corals," says Hooper.

"Commercial bottom trawlers are permitted to destroy an unlimited amount of coral, dragging heavy, weighted nets right through where they live.

"The latest report from DOC indicates seven tonnes of protected coral was dragged up by trawlers in last year’s fishing season alone, which indicates an even greater level of destruction on the seafloor."

Greenpeace says it’s time the Government faced some hard truths.

"The Government says they want to protect the ocean and biodiversity - so here’s how they do it. Bottom trawling destroys deep-sea corals and associated biodiversity, so they need to ban this practice from where they live. It’s as simple as that.

"If the Government chooses not to act, they’re burying their heads in the sand and hoping the biodiversity crisis will magically disappear. It won’t. They’ve got a really clear choice here - protect native species or continue to allow their destruction via bottom trawling.

"Almost 70,000 New Zealanders have called for a bottom trawling ban on seamounts. They will be watching to make sure the Government makes the right choice. "

Download the report

Link to the interactive map

© Scoop Media

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