Auckland, 10 November, 2009 - Greenpeace is supporting calls to tighten regulations on bottom trawling by the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation in Auckland this week.
The meeting is in the final stages of agreeing on a convention to govern bottom trawling and some other fisheries in the Pacific. New Zealand fishing boats use bottom trawling to target orange roughy, a long-lived deep sea fish which is very slow to reproduce.
Greenpeace is calling for the meeting to adopt measures to prevent damage caused by deep sea gillnets, by new fisheries and to reverse the declines in an important fish stock off the coast of South America, jack mackerel, which has been seriously overfished.
A 130-kilometre long gillnet was recently found in the ocean off Antarctica, set at 1500 metres, which had caught 29 tonnes of Antarctic toothfish as well as a number of skates. Gillnets are banned in the north-east Atlantic at depths of more than 200 metres.
Greenpeace adviser and lawyer Duncan Currie, who is attending the meeting said a new scientific report published in Europe today describing a systematic failure by fisheries managers in the North Atlantic highlighted the need to properly regulate bottom trawling.
"This report is a wake-up call to all governments that they have to start taking their responsibilities of managing the deep sea fisheries seriously. This damage both to the environment and to deep sea fish stocks must stop now."
Currie said Greenpeace agreed with the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC), an umbrella group of organisations concerned about the damage caused by bottom trawling in the deep ocean, which says it is time to halt unregulated deep sea bottom fishing.
The report, entitled "The Implementation of UN Resolution 61/105 in the Management of Deep-Sea Fisheries on the High Seas," finds that the measures taken to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems and deep-sea species on the high seas in the North Atlantic are at best inadequate and at worst non-existent.
The report examines the data available from Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs), the bodies tasked with implementing the United Nations (UN) Resolution. Matthew Gianni, Policy Advisor to the DSCC said "The UN resolution was designed to provide protection for vulnerable deep sea areas and species in lieu of a moratorium. The RFMOs studied in the report have failed to fully implement the resolution, without exception.
"The only alternative is to impose a temporary prohibition on all bottom fishing for deep-sea species in these areas until the RFMOs do what they have committed to do through the UN and prove that they can fish responsibly."
Next week, the Sustainable Fisheries resolution negotiations recommence at UN headquarters in New York to determine further recommendations needed in this year's General Assembly Resolution to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems and sustainably manage deep-sea fisheries.