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Huge steps by Government in Ocean Sustainability

Huge steps by Government in Ocean Sustainability Applauded by Greenpeace

Auckland, Thursday 7 December 2006: Greenpeace today congratulated the Minister of Fisheries, Jim Anderton for today's breakthough announcement that the Government will make sustainability come first in the Fisheries Act.

"This is a significant announcement that shows the Government is beginning to take a whole new approach to managing the use of ocean resources - not just removing fish as a main concern - and makes sustainability the priority", said ocean campaigner Mike Hagler.

"Nearly 15 years has gone by since Greenpeace began calling for the precautionary principle to be followed when making fisheries decisions when there is little or poor information. In this time, there has been five Fisheries Ministers and it's great to finally see a Minister take the step that's been so urgently needed," said Hagler.

The Minister's actions appear to have been prompted by orange roughy fishers who have refused to face up to the terrible state of their fishery. New Zealand's orange roughy fisheries are significantly overfished and fished using the world's most destructive method: bottom trawling.

"The ambiguous wording and loopholes in the current Fisheries Act has been exploited by the fishing industry to justify overfishing, killing more endangered sealions and albatross, and wiping out ancient deep sea coral forests while bottom trawling. Today the Government has finally declared its commitment to take sustainability seriously," said Hagler.

"We look forward to the urgently needed new changes coming into effect given the recent dire warnings from scientists over the health of the world's ocean and fish populations," concluded Hagler.

RECENT OCEAN ALARM-BELL WARNINGS

* In November 2006, a prominent team of ecologists and economists issued this dire warning: if current fishing patterns continue, all major commercial fish species will suffer population collapses by 2048.

* A study reported in the scientific journal 'Nature' found that 90% of the world's large ocean predators (swordfish, sharks and tuna) have been wiped out since 1950.

* In March 2005, the United Nations State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture report stated that 7 of the top 10 marine fish species, accounting for about 30 percent of all capture fisheries production, are fully exploited or overexploited.

ENDS

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