bottom trawling

28 June, 2022

DSCC Reaction

This week, the Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture voted on the European Commission’s proposal to close vulnerable areas to fishing gears which touch the seabed with the majority of EU member states adopted the implementing Act. EU member States had committed to do so in 2016, when adopting the Deep Sea Fisheries Regulation.

The DSCC warmly welcomes this vote and applauds the Commission for steering this process to successful conclusion.

We encourage the Commissioner Sinkevicius and DG Mare to ensure that the implementing act as adopted becomes law without any further delays. Deep sea vulnerable marine ecosystems can not wait any longer for sound protection.

Find out more here.

28 June, 2022

Press release

For immediate release 28 June 2022. 

New government information about the deepwater fish orange roughy shows the fish may not reach full maturity until the age of 80, throwing the entire management of the fishery into doubt.

Orange roughy, a long-lived deepwater fish, grow and mature slowly, possibly too slowly to recover from the bottom trawl fishing industry that often specifically targets them when they come together to spawn around seamounts and features. They have recently been found to live to over 230 years old (which is why the industry calls these oldest fish “Napoleons”). 

The new information, in the Ministry of Primary Industry’s recently released “2022 Plenary report”, suggests that these fish don’t reach full spawning maturity until 80 – instead of the previously-assumed spawning age of 30. 

This flawed assumption that most orange roughy spawn regularly from the age of 30 means that until now, the spawning stock size has been overestimated across the fishery.  This year’s studies only looked in detail at the East Coast North Island population, concluding that the spawning population is only about half the size previously estimated.  But it’s not just this area that is affected – future assessments of other fishing grounds are likely to find the same errors and over-estimations of orange roughy stocks. 

“This new information means that almost all the adult orange roughy spawning today were alive before the bottom trawl fishery even started targeting them in the early 1980’s.  In fact, most of the fish caught since this fishery began were already swimming around in Aotearoa waters before the fishery itself existed.”

Karli Thomas, campaign coordinator with the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition. 

The Plenary report also finds that spawning events are no longer happening at some of the major orange roughy spawning grounds, including “Strawberry Mountain” in the Ritchie Bank area off the East Coast North Island. This seamount was one where orange roughy gathered together in winter to spawn, but has been heavily targeted by bottom trawlers during the spawning season. No such spawning event has been detected in recent years, despite repeated surveys. 

“There are also warning signs that orange roughy is in trouble in other areas. One of the main areas trawled near the Chatham Rise, Rekohu, has seen a huge drop in the catch rate from 25 tonnes per tow a decade ago to just over two tonnes per tow last season. This new information is quite shocking, and really throws the future of this fishery into doubt,” said Barry Weeber, of the Environment and Conservation Organisations (ECO).   

“The more we learn about orange roughy and the other species of the deep sea, the more it’s apparent how vulnerable they are to the effects of bottom trawling.”

Greenpeace Aotearoa oceans campaigner Ellie Hooper. 

“If these fish are living to 200 and only reach maturity at  80, it’s pretty obvious why breeding groups of orange roughy have disappeared. It’s not magic, they’ve been bottom trawled into oblivion.”

“Sustainable” certification thrown into doubt

The information also brings into question the “sustainable” certification the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) bestows on some of the New Zealand orange roughy stocks, a certification that is currently being assessed for renewal. The New Zealand orange roughy industry relies heavily on this “sustainability” rating as an important marketing tool. 

“Environmental groups have long-held concerns that the orange roughy fishery is far from sustainable. This new information should close the case, and the MSC cannot re-issue the certification that expired earlier this month. It  must listen to scientists, instead of just following the wishes of the bottom trawl fishing industry that wants to keep trading off a product endorsement this fishery does not deserve.”

Karli Thomas, campaign coordinator with the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition.

ENDS

7 April, 2022

Source: Herald

Author: Guy Rogers

Scientists are exploring deep sea refuges, southwest of Gqeberha in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province, and their importance to the said the site and its importance to the kingklip, a species of cusk eel that occurs along the South African Coast.

Marine biologist Prof Kerry Sink said that the kinglips unusual “drumming” method of communication underlined the need for progressive new thinking about underwater noise pollution from activities like offshore gas and petroleum seismic surveys.

Continue reading Protect kingdom of the kingklip, scientist urges

8 March, 2022

Source: Stuff

Author: Andrea Vance

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark has joined calls to ban bottom trawling on seamounts.

Clark acknowledged that the ocean is under mounting pressure from the impacts of climate change and bottom trawling, whilst facing a new emerging threat, deep-sea mining.

Continue reading Former New Zealand PM Helen Clark wants an end to trawling on seamounts and seabed mining

22 February, 2022

Source: Otago Daily Times

Author: Oscar Francis

A new mural being painted in Dunedin, New Zealand aims to highlight the environmental damage caused by deep-sea trawlers in New Zealand.

New Zealand’s deep-sea biodiversity hotspots are at risk from the destructive bottom trawling with New Zealand the only country left in the South Pacific to allow the practice.

The mural painted by Artist Cinzah Merkens is the latest in the DSCC’s Defend The Deep series with one in Auckland already completed and one in Ragalan and Wellington yet to come.

Read the article in full here

29 September, 2020

Source: Stuff.co.nz
Author: Andrea Vance

Vast fishing nets have hauled up 29 species of delicate coral from the still, dark depths of New Zealand’s oceans.

And conservationists are warning that the Government has abandoned protection of the sea bed in favour of expanding bottom trawling.

Continue reading Trawl gear damages fragile coral reefs, so why is the Government sanctioning more hauls?

19 February, 2020

Source: Greenpeace NZ
Author: Jessica Desmond

As a result of the New Zealand government’s lobbying efforts on behalf of the fishing industry, a regional fisheries meeting this week has only made small steps toward increasing protection of the ocean from bottom trawling, and a Talley’s vessel has been taken off an international blacklist.

The South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) concluded its meeting in Vanuatu last night with disappointing results for deep sea life, largely as a result of New Zealand’s efforts to protect its destructive bottom trawling industry.

One of the ways SPRFMO protects deep sea corals is with the so-called “move on rule” where  fishing vessels must move to a new fishing area if they exceed the amount of destruction allowed to a particular species. The weight limit was previously set at 250kg for stony corals, but recent research showed that 250kg in the trawl net meant up to 85 tonnes of coral destroyed on the seabed.

In response to the science, the EU proposed reducing the limit to 25kg in the net, which would have significantly reduced the damage to deep sea corals. The proposal was supported by the US and Australia, but was vehemently opposed by New Zealand fishing industry lobbyists the High Seas Fishery Group, led by Talley’s, and the New Zealand government. The resulting weak compromise sets a new 80kg limit, allowing as much 33 tonnes to be destroyed on the seabed in a single trawl.

“The New Zealand bottom trawling industry is stuck in a  mindset of dragging up as much profit from the deep sea as it can get, no matter what the cost to our ocean. Other countries are trying to move on from this scorched-earth approach to fishing, but the New Zealand government seems determined to let our industrial fleets continue their rampage,” said Jessica Desmond of Greenpeace New Zealand, at the meeting as part of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition delegation.

Talley’s ship taken off blacklist

The New Zealand government also insisted that a Talley’s fishing vessel, the Amaltal Apollo, be taken off the SPRFMO draft IUU (Illegal, unregulated, unreported) blacklist, despite trawling 14 times in an area closed to fishing in May 2018. The vessel was allowed to continue fishing in international waters for the rest of the 2018 fishing season. While the government is prosecuting the company and the skipper, the case still hasn’t been through the courts and MPI is still letting the vessel fish in New Zealand’s seas in the meantime.

“As a Kiwi I’m appalled. The New Zealand government has basically just gone to bat for Talley’s, despite its pending prosecution, and managed to get the Amaltal Apollo removed from the draft blacklist, even though nothing has changed since last year when it was blacklisted.  The ship is still fishing – just not on the high seas – and we call on the government to refuse it a high seas permit in this year’s fishing season,” said Jessica Desmond.

“It’s sad to say, but the New Zealand government has been captured by the deep-water fishing industry. It is acting as their advocate rather than as a government.”