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A Mural Appears In Auckland Amid Renewed Calls For Ban On Trawling Seamounts

An orange roughy and bubblegum coral are the subject of a new mural just completed in central Auckland, as the New Zealand government faces renewed pressure to ban bottom trawling on seamounts.

The mural, painted on Ponsonby Road (1) by street artist Cinzah for the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) (2), is the first of a “Defend the Deep” mural series to be rolled out across the country, as a public call to protect the ocean from both bottom trawling and seabed mining.

The mural was painted to coincide with a South Pacific regional fisheries meeting this week (3), where New Zealand has continually argued against stricter regulation on bottom trawling to protect seamounts, instead shoring up New Zealand’s international bottom trawlers, the only fleet still bottom trawling on seamounts in the region’s international waters. This year’s review of the rules governing bottom trawling has been pushed to 2023, but campaigners point out that this shouldn’t delay Government action.

“All six New Zealand vessels authorised by the New Zealand government to trawl on seamounts in the South Pacific belong to companies with recent convictions for illegal trawling in closed areas,” said Karli Thomas of the DSCC.

“Their fishing permits expire in April, and there is no reason to delay action until 2023. Fisheries Minister David Parker could end the destruction and protect these precious deep-sea ecosystems with the stroke of a pen, by simply refusing to re-issue high seas permits to a handful of trawlers owned by companies that have shown they can't be trusted.”

Greenpeace oceans campaigner Ellie Hooper noted a recent Horizon poll shows almost 80 percent of Kiwis want bottom trawling banned on seamounts, and petitions against it had now gained 70,000 signatures.

“New Zealanders have made it very clear what they think about bottom trawling on seamounts - they want it stopped now,” she said.

“As we engaged with people while the mural was being painted, we found overwhelming support from the public. It is high time the Government listened to the voices of New Zealanders who want to see the ocean protected, not pillaged.”

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