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Ministers opt for a chat while sea bed is trashed

Ministers opt for a chat while sea bed is trashed

The Greens are very disappointed that the Government has opted for more discussion and for ‘voluntary’ measures on deep sea bottom trawling, while hundreds of irreplaceable, rare marine species are being wiped out.

“The Government’s ‘strategy’ on bottom trawling, released to ensure minimum exposure late on Friday afternoon, contains no actions to actually protect the marine environment,” noted Green Party Co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons.

“The issue of a global, temporary ban on bottom trawling in international waters - which, after all, belong to the whole world, not individual fishing nations - has been on the table for more than six months.

“New Zealand, as one of only 11 countries that allows its trawlers to bottom trawl on the high seas, was asked to take a lead at the UN and support a resolution for a temporary ban while protective rules were developed.

“The New Zealand Government has now answered that call - with a refusal. Instead, we’ll help protect one of the most vulnerable and exploited environments on the planet by holding another round of talks.

“The plan to develop rules for protection through regional fisheries management organisations sounds good, but they take so long that there may be little left to protect by the time they are in force. That is why in the meantime we need a moratorium on bottom trawling.

“These ‘management organisations’ may eventually come up with ‘interim targeted bans in vulnerable areas’, as the Government suggests, but they may be only small areas and they may happen too late.

"I'm astonished that the Minister of Fisheries would expect the fishing industry to agree to ‘voluntary measures’, when this same industry takes him to court whenever he uses his powers to protect the marine environment or the sustainability of fish stocks.

“The fishing industry has shown that it must be compelled every inch of the way to comply with sustainability rules,” said Ms Fitzsimons. “Relying on this industry for ‘voluntary’ measures is absurd.”

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