New Zealand in leadership role protecting marine environment
7 May 2007
“New Zealand can take real pride in the progress achieved at the latest round of negotiations to set up a fisheries management regime for the high seas of the Southern Pacific,” Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said today. “The key outcome was agreement on stringent rules to control bottom trawling, based on a proposal put forward by the New Zealand delegation.”
A further round of negotiations to establish a South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation was held last week in Reñaca, Chile.
“The most significant outcome of the meeting was agreement on a set of interim measures to apply while the new organisation was being established. These will take effect from 30 September 2007 and give effect to the calls made last year by the United Nations General Assembly for controls on high seas bottom trawling. Getting bottom trawling controls agreed and implemented before the end of this year was the top priority for New Zealand,” Jim Anderton said.
He confirmed that the new rules would limit high seas bottom trawling by New Zealand vessels. “It will be a challenge for New Zealand fishing vessels to satisfy the assessment and review requirements of the new rules. However, the industry has known for some time that these controls were likely and that they would have to meet them if they want to keep on bottom trawling on the high seas.”
This was the third meeting held under the initiative taken by New Zealand, Australia and Chile for an agreement to manage the fisheries of the high seas of a huge area - stretching from Western Australia to Chile and from the Equator to the Antarctic - and to protect associated marine ecosystems. Twenty-one countries plus the European Community, as well as various inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations, attended the meeting.
The bottom trawling discussions were based on a proposal tabled by New Zealand in advance of the meeting. The final outcome incorporated all of the essential elements of the New Zealand proposal. The key elements of the new measures are:
- Bottom trawling must not exceed current levels and must not expand into any new areas of the high seas
- Current bottom trawling activities may continue only if they can satisfy an independently peer-reviewed process that they will not cause significant adverse effects to vulnerable marine ecosystems such as seamounts, hydrothermal vents, cold water corals and sponge fields.
New Zealand emphasised the need for the new organisation to take an ecosystems approach to fisheries management. Real advances were made in describing and documenting the status of the fisheries of the area and in settling a programme for future research, especially into jack mackerel, the stock of major commercial interest. The participants also agreed to start providing the data and information required for the effective management of the fisheries of the area.
The next round of the negotiations will be held in Noumea, New Caledonia in September.