10 May 2001
Regulations closing 19 underwater seamounts (mountains under the sea) to all trawling came into force today.
The decision to close the seamounts, under the Fisheries Act 1996, to avoid, remedy, and mitigate the adverse effects of fishing on aquatic life associated with the seamounts was announced in September last year.
The 19 seamounts selected for closure are distributed around New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), including the Chatham Rise, sub-Antarctic waters, the east and west coasts of the northern part of the North Island, and are representative of the types of seamounts found in New Zealand waters. The closed seamounts vary in size from the very large "Bollons" seamount in the sub-Antarctic, to the very small features on the Chatham Rise.
Information about the types of species found on seamounts is still very limited, and research into the biological diversity and the effect of fishing on seamounts is continuing.
However existing research shows that marine life on seamounts is diverse, with a number of species which are long-lived, slow-growing and slow to reproduce. Many are potentially vulnerable to the impact of trawl fishing methods.
The closures will give marine scientists the opportunity of learning more about the biological diversity of these deepwater habitats and ecosystems.
For further information please contact:
Stuart Brodie, Ministry of Fisheries
Telephone 04 470 2600