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After four years of campaigning (including bearing witness and taking direct action by Greenpeace activists on the Rainbow Warrior against bottom trawling fishing vessels in the Tasman Sea) to bring an end to deep-sea bottom trawling, an international agreement has been made to protect just under 25 percent of the high seas from this incredibly destructive fishing method.

Representatives from countries around the world gathered in Chile to carve out a fisheries agreement for the South Pacific region. Following a resolution made by the UN in 2006, the countries at the meeting responded strongly with measures to stop destruction of deep water corals, seamounts and other sensitive habitats by vessels that  are bottom trawling in international waters.

From September 2007 bottom trawling vessels in the South Pacific will not be able to fish in areas that have or are even likely to have vulnerable marine ecosystems, unless they’ve completed an assessment to show they won’t do any damage.

The New Zealand fishing industry is responsible for 90 percent of bottom trawling in the region. New Zealand delegates told the meeting these measures would “severely constrain the ability of their fishing industry to continue bottom trawling on the high seas around New Zealand”  and suggested that it may even have the effect of putting an end to bottom trawling.

We’ll be watching to make sure that New Zealand – and all the member countries – put the agreement into action, and implement the measures that will protect the irreplaceable biodiversity of deep sea ecosystems.

Image: Crewman on the New Zealand bottom trawler dump a large piece of ‘Paragorgia’ coral dredged from the deep sea in their net.

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/Landmark-for-deep-sea240507/

http://www.munz.org.nz/2005/06/08/maritime-union-backs-greenpeace-protest-action-against-bottom-trawling/

http://www.greenpeace.org/new-zealand/en/blog/seafood-boss-has-fishy-view-on-bottom-trawlin/blog/26775/