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Most New Zealanders think it’s illegal

Bottom trawling is an indiscriminate fish harvesting process, capturing all in its path and scraping vital marine growth off the seabed. The damage is unseen as it’s underwater and out of sight. The environmental impacts from the agricultural sector is attracting increasing attention and public concern about the damage caused by some commercial fishing methods is also rising. The majority of people don’t even think bottom trawling is allowed inshore. It is.

In 2017, MPI openly admitted that bottom trawling and dredging are the most destructive fishing methods, causing damage to seabed habitats and reducing the density and diversity of species that live there.

As far back as the 14th century people recognised the stupidity of trawling. It was banned and even made a capital offence in some countries. People took preserving their resources very seriously.

“Given the capabilities of modern science it is beyond comprehension why bottom trawling is still allowed when there are more environmentally friendly alternatives, including long lining and trapping, available to today’s fishers,” says LegaSea spokesperson Scott Macindoe.

LegaSea, a not-for-profit organisation raising awareness of marine environmental issues, believes it’s the Quota Management System and the power wielded by quota holders that is the
key barrier to responsible and sustainable fishing.

Section 11 of the Fisheries Act 1996 gives the Minister of Fisheries, Stuart Nash, the authority to protect inshore waters by specifying catch limits, fishing areas, methods and seasons, in the interests of sustainability.

“Despite empowering legislation and strong public support it’s a worry that the Minister won’t act in the public interest when it comes to banning trawling from inshore waters,” says Macindoe.

There are over 20,000 trawls in New Zealand waters every year and commercial fishing is becoming even more industrialised with bigger and more powerful trawlers. This does not bode well for our fish stocks or the health of the marine environment nor does it fit with public opinion.

“The public have had enough. People are shocked when they learn the truth, that trawling is allowed inshore. They want it stopped today,” says Scott Macindoe.

LegaSea will at the Tauranga Fishing and Boat Show from Friday until Sunday at Trustpower Arena, Baypark, where the impacts of bottom trawling will be a hot topic of discussion.

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