NZ to take strong stance on bottom trawling
New Zealand is taking a strong stance on bottom trawling in international waters, and will seek the support of other nations at regional meetings and at the United Nations General Assembly next month, the government announced today.
Foreign Minister Winston Peters, Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton, and Conservation Minister Chris Carter said the government was seeking an immediate moratorium on the high seas outside areas where competent Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) existed or were under negotiation.
Mr Anderton said such a measure would exclude bottom trawling from about a third of the world’s high seas. He said the government was also advocating that RFMOs should institute strong conservation measures to protect vulnerable ecosystems such as seamounts by 2008.
Mr Carter said New Zealand was putting RFMOs on notice.
"We want decisive action to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems by 2008. If that does not happen we will have no choice but to look at other options, such as a global moratorium.
“The UN General Assembly has already made it clear that establishing controls on the adverse impacts of bottom trawling are urgently needed, and we must accelerate efforts to get them in place.
“There is growing concern and too little known about the impact of bottom trawling on unique marine life and habitats, and we think the international community should proceed with caution, and look very closely at where this fishing method is used.”
Mr Anderton said New Zealand had a very good system of management within its own EEZ that ensured fisheries would remain sustainable and that environmental issues were addressed.
"We already have some sea floor areas protected from bottom trawling and dredging. Our position on bottom trawling in the high seas is a further example of New Zealand's commitment to being a responsible fishing nation."
Mr Peters said effective management in international waters could best be delivered through international agreements negotiated through RFMOs or through the United Nations.
“Since 2004, New Zealand has been prepared to support, in principle, the concept of an interim global moratorium on bottom trawling on the high seas, if such a proposal had sufficient global support to be practical and enforceable.
"To date such support appears limited, so the best protection mechanism we have are RFMOs.”