Key outcomes agreed at the meeting will mean that fishing
vessels will not be allowed to bottom fish in areas that are
identified or likely to have vulnerable marine ecosystems such as
cold water corals and sponge fields, without prior assessment and
measures. Conservation and management measures will need to be put
in place before fishing can occur.
Other controls are placed such as vessel locator monitoring
systems and observers on every bottom trawling vessel. Vessels will
need to move on five nautical miles if they encounter vulnerable
marine ecosystems. The measures will come into force on September
30th this year.
The outcomes are particularly relevant to New Zealand, whose
fleet is responsible for 90% of the bottom trawling in the South
Pacific region. New Zealand delegates told the meeting this week
that such measures would severely constrain the ability of the New
Zealand fishing industry to continue bottom trawling on the high
seas around New Zealand and suggested that it may even have the
effect of putting an end to bottom trawling.
"This agreement is an important step to protect the
irreplaceable biodiversity of deep sea ecosystems," said Mike
Hagler, Greenpeace New Zealand campaigner. "It is encouraging to
see the New Zealand government strongly supporting measures to
prevent destructive bottom fishing in the region. We will be
watching to ensure that the New Zealand government now puts these
proposals into action."
In addition to adopting an agreement on bottom fishing,
countries at the meeting also grappled with how to limit fishing on
the highly prized jack mackerel fishery. Here major fishing powers
from Asia and Europe, keen to negotiate access to this valuable
resource, pushed through an outcome that may have more ominous
impact on fish stocks in the region.
In particular, Greenpeace considers that it was extremely
disappointing that Russia, a major fishing nation, weakened the
restraints on fishing these pelagic species.
"Allowing states with a fishing history in the region to freely
move back into the South Pacific area in 2008 and 2009 will lead to
a race by countries to boost their claim to fishing in this
region," said Samuel Leiva, Greenpeace Chile. "With science telling
us that jack mackerel stocks in the region are already fully
exploited, merely asking states who are moving vessels back into
the region to exercise "voluntary restraint" is completely
Greenpeace is calling on all states at the South Pacific RFMO
negotiations to push for a final agreement that has at its heart
the protection of the marine environment and applies an ecosystem
and precautionary approach, something that wasn't taken into
account this week in negotiations on the jack mackerel fishery.
Other contacts: Duncan Currie, Greenpeace International +64 21 632 335 Mike Hagler, Greenpeace New Zealand +64 21 321 379Samuel Leiva Greenpeace Chile +56 982 309 252 (Spanish)Isabel Leal, Greenpeace International media officer, +34 647 24 15 02.