Greenpeace activists on a raft have now been blocking a Talley’s bottom trawling ship from leaving Port Nelson for eight hours and are preparing to stay there overnight in opposition to Talley’s continued bottom trawling on seamounts. Follow the action here.
Activists anchored their 6-metre long raft alongside the Talley’s trawler Amaltal Atlantis just before sunrise this morning, blocking its path to leave port and carry out destructive fishing. They then unfurled a banner that reads: “Stop Bottom Trawling Seamounts”.
“It’s heartwarming to see activists putting themselves out there on a cold day like today, taking action to protect the ocean. But it shouldn’t just be up to people like Jess and Christine – the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries David Parker could step in right now and ban bottom trawling on seamounts”, says Greenpeace oceans campaigner Ellie Hooper.
Bottom trawling is a destructive fishing practice where huge weighted nets are dragged over seamounts, or underwater mountains or hills, destroying ancient corals and killing rare marine life.
Speaking from the raft alongside the Talley’s bottom trawling vessel, Greenpeace activist Jessica Desmond says: “Christine and I are here today taking action against Talley’s because we want them to stop bottom trawling on seamounts. We know seamounts are incredibly crucial habitats, home to countless marine wildlife and the building blocks of a healthy ocean – and these trawlers bulldoze all the life that is there.”
“Seventy thousand people have signed petitions calling for bottom trawling to be banned on seamounts and we’re here taking direct action and we’re demanding that David Parker take action to ban bottom trawling on seamounts.
“We’re keeping warm and cosy on our pontoon, we have everything we need to pass the time. Christine has been crocheting and we’ve had lunch and essentials delivered.”
Says Hooper: “Taking action against Talley’s is necessary to protect ocean biodiversity. We can have a healthy and thriving ocean again, but we have to stop the worst types of fishing. Bottom trawling these areas can never be sustainable.
“Every year, Talley’s sends a fleet of vessels out to bottom trawl seamounts, destroying vulnerable coral habitats in the process. In the middle of the biodiversity crisis – bottom trawling seamounts is indefensible.
“Seamounts are the building blocks of ocean life, forming essential breeding grounds for fish and a home for unique species. Fragile and slow growing coral live there – often called “the kauri of the deep”.
“When companies like Talley’s drag large weighted nets over seamounts they don’t just catch fish, they bulldoze through everything in their path and net huge amounts of other species. Research shows these trawled areas may not recover in our lifetime.”
Bottom trawling involves dragging huge heavy nets over seamounts to catch fish that congregate on these biodiversity hot spots to feed and spawn. An indiscriminate method, it drags up everything growing on the seafloor along with killing non-targeted marine life.
Seamounts are underwater mountains, hills and knolls of various sizes and NIWA have mapped over 800 of them in New Zealand. Fed by nutrients rising from the deep they are ideal locations for coral and sponges to grow which in turn act as nurseries for fish and other marine life. Larger mammals also benefit with whales and sharks using seamounts as feeding and navigation spots.
Recent research into orange roughy, a deep sea fish that can live for over 200 years, adds further evidence to show why bottom trawling is unsustainable. Scientists found that orange roughy don’t reach full maturity around 80 years of age, much later than previously thought, throwing the sustainability of this fishery further into question.
Despite this news, the Marine Sustainability Certification has revealed its plans to give its blue tick to orange roughy fisheries in New Zealand.
Join the call to demand that the NZ Govt bans bottom trawling on seamounts and similar deep sea features, and stop issuing permits for bottom trawling in international waters.