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Greenpeace calls out David Parker’s 'hollow words' - Greenpeace

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Greenpeace is calling on Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker to back up his words with action this week, as he attends the United Nations Oceans Conference in Lisbon.

At the Conference, which focuses on ocean protection, Minister Parker spoke of New Zealand’s commitments to "biodiversity protection overall". Greenpeace says this rings hollow in light of the Government’s inaction on bottom trawling.

"There is overwhelming evidence that shows bottom trawling destroys ocean biodiversity - especially on seamounts where rare, slow-growing corals form, and where fish like orange roughy breed," says Greenpeace oceans campaigner, Ellie Hooper.

"If this Government wants to protect biodiversity as they claim, they should protect New Zealand’s seamounts from being bulldozed by bottom trawlers."

New information released in a plenary report from the Ministry for Primary Industries raises yet another red flag as to why bottom trawling seamounts is unsustainable. Orange roughy, a key species bottom trawled on seamounts in New Zealand, has been found to reach full maturity at around 80 years of age - far later than the previously assumed spawning age of around 30 years.

This means the size of the spawning population may have been grossly overestimated and the information used to set catch limits and sustainability status therefore incorrect.

The report also found that key spawning grounds of orange roughy on seamounts are now missing. Including on the East Coast of the North Island, and on the Chatham Rise.

"The commercial fishing industry is bottom trawling seamounts, targeting these fish as they spawn, and in the process destroying that breeding ground for future use. It’s pretty obvious that these things combined are going to push that species towards collapse.

"These fish are so slow growing and take so long to reach full breeding maturity, they don’t have time to recover their numbers before the next bottom trawling onslaught."

Greenpeace is calling for the Government to urgently close seamounts to bottom trawling, to protect the unique biodiversity found there and fish populations. Over 70,000 New Zealanders have signed petitions calling for this and 80% of people polled agreed they want an end to bottom trawling.

"As the only country left bottom trawling seamounts in the South Pacific, the New Zealand Government cannot, in good faith, pretend that we are leaders in ocean sustainability. We absolutely can be - but it means putting some action behind those words about protecting our blue backyard.

"The science and public opinion on this issue is clear - we need to close seamounts to bottom trawling, to protect fish populations and biodiversity for the future."

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