New Zealand Bans Bottom-Trawling, but...

The good news first: New Zealand has announced that 1/3 of its offshore waters is going to be declared off-limits to a kind of very destructive fishing called bottom-trawling. "Conservation groups say bottom-trawling is the most destructive type of fishing undertaken in the world's oceans today. Ships trail heavy nets across the sea bed, catching fish but destroying coral and other organisms. [...] The photos show a wide diversity of deep-sea life being dragged up from the deep-sea floor, including bizarre crabs, strange octopi, ancient gorgonian corals and endangered black coral." But Greenpeace is not quite pleased with the deal ("The devil is in the details") because the ban doesn't extended to all vulnerable areas, and some of the areas covered have already been fished out or are too deep to bottom-trawl anyway.The WWF also sees problems with the New Zealand fishing ban: "[the] governments appear to be going down the track of a sectoral fisheries management approach which has so spectacularly failed elsewhere, rather than adopting an ecosystem-based management approach." Indeed, a holistic approach to conservation is needed. Even if 2/3 of a particular ecosystem are protected, the damage inflicted in the other 1/3 has impacts on the rest.

Jim Anderton, New Zealand Fisheries Minister, says that the country would support a global moratorium on bottom-trawling, but only if the international community followed suit. "It would need the unanimous support of the United Nations General Assembly - and that's a long way off."

Not surprisingly:

The fishing companies involved, such as Sanford and Amaltal, strongly dispute Greenpeace's allegations that they are doing huge damage to the ocean floor and its lifeforms.

Amaltal company director Andrew Talley has labelled Greenpeace's allegations as "unsubstantiated claptrap".

We find it bit hard to believe that they really think dragging a 60 meters (180 feet) wide net with over 15 tons of weights on the ocean floors is not doing huge damage, but we won't call them liars because we feel polite and non-confrontational today. We'll just show this "before and after" picture:

You can learn more about bottom-trawling at Wikipedia.

::New Zealand Bottom Trawling Strategy, ::'Destructive fishing' ban for NZ, ::IUCN bottom-trawling report (pfd), :: Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, ::Conservationists blast bottom trawling