Bottom trawling on all seamounts must stop

The Green Party once again calls on the Government to ban bottom trawling on all seamounts following the release of an industry white paper on so-called ‘sustainable’ trawling. 

“The Government needs to show much greater ambition for marine protection and demonstrate that it will not be captured by the fishing industry’s attempt to greenwash some of its most harmful activities,” the Green Party’s spokesperson for oceans and fisheries, Eugenie Sage says. 

Today Sealord released its own “white paper” on bottom trawling which essentially argues that it is fine to continue destroying centuries-old communities of deep sea corals, sea sponges and other marine life because more can be found in other parts of the ocean.

“Having already shown its willingness to be won over by the arguments of the fishing industry, we are worried that the Government will once again put dollars above conservation.

“Earlier this year, the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries, David Parker established a working group to look at how best to manage the effects of bottom trawling. It is impossible to read the terms of reference without thinking it is the Government’s intention to allow bottom trawling to continue. This is because of their ongoing focus on “spatial decision support tools” rather than having a clear option to consider protecting all sea mounts from bottom trawling.

“Sealord’s “white paper” is an attempt to further muddy the waters by using a very restrictive definition of a seamount as features over 1,000 metres. 

“We need to be very clear about this: seamounts are underwater features over 100 metres that are home to an abundance of marine life, including species such as orange roughy which congregate on them for spawning and other important life stages. 

“The Green Party is concerned by the Government’s focus on spatial measures rather than options for a complete ban on bottom trawling on seamounts. The basic tenet of the Government and industry  argument is that it is okay to destroy marine life in one area, so long as there is more somewhere else. Sealord’s “white paper” - and the Government’s susceptibility to these sorts of arguments - only add to these concerns. 

“Speaking in Parliament last week, Minister Parker said “trawling is an integral part of fishing” while at the same time saying he did not want to prejudge the recommendations of the working group. The Green Party is deeply concerned about where this position may lead and once again call on the Government to introduce an immediate ban on this harmful activity as an essential part of protecting ocean health,” says Eugenie Sage. 

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