SAVE DEEP SEA CORALS FROM SEABED TRAWLING

Deep sea corals take centuries to grow - but can be destroyed in minutes.

Seamounts (undersea mountains) are home to dense corals. They are nurseries and breeding grounds for all kinds of ocean life and are critical for the wellbeing of our planet.

Yet right now, seabed trawling is destroying thousands of ancient deep sea coral each year.

New Zealand is one of just two countries in the South Pacific that allows this destructive and outdated fishing practice. Ecosystems are in crisis and time is running out to save our ocean.

We must act now to protect coral and stop seabed trawling on seamounts and similar places.

Minister David Parker has the power to protect these critical coral reefs. If the Government knows New Zealanders care, they will act.

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Deep sea coral

© Francisco Jesús Navarro Hernández

To: Minister David Parker
CC: CEOs MPI and DOC

We must ban bottom trawling on seamounts

Deep sea corals play a vital role in our ecosystems and are essential for the wellbeing of our ocean. These precious corals take centuries to grow, but can take only minutes to destroy. And each year, thousands of deep sea corals are destroyed by bottom trawling.
 
I call on the New Zealand government to ban bottom trawling on seamounts and protect these taonga from destructive bottom trawl fishing.
 
As the Minister responsible for protecting marine life and managing New Zealand’s fisheries, I ask that you amend fisheries rules to ban trawling on seamounts and similar deep-sea features.
 
New Zealand fishing companies send their vessels out to bottom trawl on seamounts and similar features on the high seas. I ask that you stop issuing high seas permits for bottom trawl fishing.
 
Deep sea corals are critical for the wellbeing of our planet, and we need to act quickly protect them.


Coral is Critical for Ecosystems

Deep-sea corals - found on seamounts (under-sea mountains) - form the habitat of countless diverse and irreplaceable species. They are teeming with marine life, and new deep sea creatures are being discovered there all the time.

Deep sea corals are mostly slow growing, have low natural mortality and extreme longevity - some even reaching thousands of years. For example, an Aotearoa study found that black coral Antipathari from the Chatham Rise taken at a depth of 870m was aged between 909 – 2,672 years old.

Deep sea coral is a vital part of our ecosystems and are critical for the wellbeing of our ocean and our planet.

Download Deep Sea Corals Report
© Erling Svensen / WWF

Destructive Seabed Trawling

Fishing companies drag heavily weighted nets across the seabed to catch fish like orange roughy and in the process they can destroy entire communities of marine life. New research shows that even after 15 years, heavily trawled seamounts have not even begun to recover.

New Zealand is now the only country in the South Pacific to continue this outdated fishing practice. And all six New Zealand bottom trawl vessels currently permitted to trawl in the South Pacific high seas belong to companies that have been convicted in the past year of illegally fishing in closed areas.

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© Malcolm Pullman / Greenpeace

Together, we can save our coral

Within New Zealand, there are no regulations or limits on the amount of endangered coral that can be impacted and brought up in nets.

It is time to call it a day for this destructive fishery. New Zealand must end bottom trawl fishing on seamounts, and instead support research, innovation and protection of these deep-sea taonga.

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© David Clode / Unsplash