Seamounts (undersea mountains) are home to dense coral forests. They are nurseries and breeding grounds for all kinds of ocean life.
But seabed trawling destroys ancient deep sea coral forests. New science has just confirmed that these corals do not recover even after 15 years of protection.
That’s why we must protect them now, and stop seabed trawling on seamounts and similar places.
Ministers Stuart Nash and Eugenie Sage have the power to protect these precious coral forests. If they know New Zealanders care, they will act.
To: Ministers Nash and Sage
CC: CEOs MPI and DOC
I call on the New Zealand government to ban bottom trawling on seamounts and protect these taonga from destructive bottom trawl fishing.
As Ministers 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 the kauri forests of our ocean, and we owe them protection.
These deep-sea corals - found on seamounts (under-sea mountains) - are the ‘kauri of the ocean, growing slowly but living many hundreds of years.
And like our precious kauri, they are in danger of being destroyed forever. These deep sea mountains form the habitat for countless species - they are teeming with marine life, and new deep sea creatures are being discovered there all the time.
Fishing companies drag heavily weighted nets across the seabed to catch fish like orange roughy and in the process they destroy deep sea corals, sponges and complex communities of marine life. The new research shows that even after 15 years, heavily trawled seamounts have not even begun to recover.
New Zealand is one of just two countries who continue this outdated fishing practice in the South Pacific. These waters have very little protection under regional or international agreements, and recently, one of our own boats was caught illegally fishing in a closed area.
[Photo credit: Malcolm Pullman / Greenpeace]
In international waters, fishing vessels are allowed to cause a huge amount of destruction – catching up to 300 kg of corals and sponges in a single tow of their net before they have to move their fishing spot.
However, even more destruction is allowed within our own waters. 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 and protection of these deep-sea taonga.