Fisheries

2 August, 2022

MEDIA RELEASE

This week, from August 2-3, in New York, a United Nations workshop will explore how far States have come in safeguarding fragile deep sea ecosystems from the damage caused by industrial deep sea bottom trawl fishing. The DSCC calls on the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to finish the job the UNGA began in 2004 and insist that high seas fishing nations protect deep-sea biodiversity.

Continue reading UN urged to take critical action to protect marine life from industrial deep sea bottom trawl fishing

25 July, 2022

Press Release

Six years after the adoption of the EU deep-sea fishing Regulation that prohibited bottom trawling below 800 meters in EU waters, the EU has finally adopted an ‘Implementing Act’ to begin closing coldwater coral and other biologically diverse deep-sea vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) below 400 meters depth to bottom fishing. 

Civil society welcomes this long-awaited protection of VMEs. The adopted protective measures are, however, already under threat.

Continue reading Civil society urges immediate action to protect fragile deep sea ecosystems

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

9 March, 2022

Source: Endangered Species Foundation

Author: Natalie Jessup

We are excited to announce that The Endangered Species Foundation has today joined the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition as our newest member.

The Endangered Species Foundation supports high-priority conservation initiatives that protect New Zealand’s most vulnerable, indigenous species from extinction and supports the DSCC in its aims to substantially reduce the greatest threats to deep sea life.

Continue reading Endangered Species Foundation joins Deep Sea Conservation Coalition to protect vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems

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