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Scientists collaborating to protect the Tasman Sea

9 December, 2004

Fisheries scientists collaborating to protect the Tasman Sea

New Zealand and Australian marine scientists will this week share knowledge on biodiversity in the Tasman Sea as the two countries work towards better protection for the marine environment.

Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope says scientists and officials from both countries will meet in Sydney to share information about Tasman Sea biology, oceanography and geoscience; identify areas of high biodiversity significance; identify risks; and consider possible protection measures.

Mr Benson-Pope says a key issue is the protection of seafloor ecosystems and structures, such as corals and seamounts, from environmental damage from a range of risks including bottom trawling.

The United Nations General Assembly recently passed resolutions calling on states to urgently cooperate to establish new Regional Fisheries Management Organisations to manage the adverse impacts of fishing on vulnerable marine ecosystems.

Mr Benson-Pope, says this week’s meeting will help build the common knowledge base necessary to underpin government decisions on biodiversity protection. It will also prepare the ground for the development of a regional management framework for fishing in the Tasman. No such arrangement currently exists to manage deep-sea species.

“This work follows government decisions, announced earlier this year, on a multi-pronged strategy to enhance the protection of high seas biodiversity," says Mr Benson-Pope. "The proposed approach is to provide interim protection to the most vulnerable and significant underwater structures threatened by bottom trawling, while working towards stronger high seas governance and biodiversity management systems in the longer term.”

Further discussions on a regional management framework for fishing in the Tasman will be held next year.

ENDS

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