The Green Party is renewing its call for Minister for the Environment, David Parker to immediately ban bottom trawling on seamounts.
The call follows the conclusion of the annual meeting of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) which ended with Governments agreeing to delay a long-awaited review of bottom-trawling rules.
“Seamounts are vital to the health of our moana, but right now large fishing companies are free to continue using heavy machinery to trawl over them, destroying the habitats of deep sea corals, sponges and many other species. An immediate ban on this harmful activity is essential to protect ocean health,” says Eugenie Sage, Green Party spokesperson for Oceans and Fisheries.
“Seamounts are home to some of our most precious habitats and ecosystems. We already protect 52 percent of seamounts from trawling, so let’s safeguard the health of the other 48 percent that are still open to big fishing companies to exploit with heavy gear. This will help ensure marine life and fisheries can recover their health and thrive in the future.
“Minister Parker recently established a forum to look at how best to manage the effects of bottom trawling in New Zealand waters, but a decision to ban it could be made right now. Kicking the can down the road will not only allow this harmful practice to continue longer than is necessary, it is at odds with what we know most New Zealanders want.
“The Government has the legal tools it needs to ban bottom trawling on seamounts – it just needs to act. We can no longer afford to ignore the issues or everyone will lose – our fisheries and marine sector, the public, and most of all the ocean itself,” says Eugenie Sage.