Greenpeace protesters have covered Parliament lawn with replica coral this morning, calling on the Government to take urgent action on bottom trawling.
Oceans campaigner Jessica Desmond says the activity coincides with new figures that reveal up to 3,000 tonnes of coral was destroyed by New Zealand bottom trawl vessels last year.
"The scale of the destruction caused by bottom trawling is immense. But when corals are pulled up in fishing nets, that’s actually only a tiny fraction of the destruction happening on the seafloor. For every tonne of coral brought up in the net, up to 340 tonnes are destroyed below," she says.
"The New Zealand bottom trawling fleet is bulldozing our oceans - both in New Zealand waters and internationally. This concerns everyone because healthy oceans are necessary for all life on this Earth. The fishing industry is turning precious habitats into rubble, and they’re getting away with it because it’s out of sight."
Greenpeace dumped coral from fish bins marked ‘Stolen by Talley’s’ onto Parliament lawn on Tuesday, as they called on Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash to act to protect these ecosystems.
New Zealand owned Talley’s and Sealord bottom trawl in both domestic and international waters.
Desmond says the Government is refusing to listen to the tens of thousands of New Zealanders who want better protection for our troubled oceans.
"More than 40,000 New Zealanders have called for the Government to ban bottom trawling on seamounts, where these ancient corals grow. But so far, the only action the Government has taken is to increase the amount of bottom trawling allowed in the coming fishing season," she says.
"When are they going to listen to the science and to the thousands of Kiwis who want better for our seas?"
Alongside the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, and several other eNGOs, Greenpeace is calling for a ban on bottom trawling of seamounts.