Greenpeace activists have hung a net full of ‘bycatch’ outside the Ministry for Primary Industries building in Auckland this morning, rebranding the government department ‘The Ministry for Destructive Fishing’.
This comes a day after the government announced it will allow destructive bottom trawling methods to continue in large areas of the Hauraki Gulf marine park – despite 84% of people living around the Gulf wanting trawl methods banned.
It also comes in the same week the Fishing Industry Transformation Plan was released, which Greenpeace criticised for leaving the door open for bottom trawling to continue.
“Bottom trawling is the worst of the worst, destroying the seafloor and wreaking havoc on marine ecosystems”, says Greenpeace Aotearoa programme director Niamh O’Flynn..
“Clearly, the Ministry has been captured by industry interests that put profit above ocean health. This was an opportunity to protect and restore ocean life by banning bottom trawling, and they have chosen not to, despite the evidence and despite the public mandate.”
“It’s as if the Ministry thinks that it works for the fishing industry in the interests of profit even if it means allowing indiscriminately destructive fishing practices to continue.”
“Today, activists placed a net over an MPI sign to symbolise that they have been captured and challenge them to do better.
“We can have a thriving ocean, but any government serious about that has got to take action against bottom trawling and ban it from the places it does the most harm. It’s what people want, and it’s what the ocean needs.”
The decision to allow bottom trawling to continue in areas of the Gulf was made as part of the Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan released yesterday. The plan offers some protective measures but still allows bottom trawl methods, including trawling, dredging and Danish seining, to continue in large areas of the marine park, euphemistically dubbed “trawl corridors”.
A broad alliance of groups, including Greenpeace Aotearoa, made submissions on the plan calling for a total ban on all bottom trawl methods to protect the marine park which has been pushed to the brink by years of destructive human activity and fishing practices.
Says O’Flynn: “Over 36,000 people have called for a ban on bottom trawling in the Marine Park, and in April hundreds showed up on the water and at Mission Bay beach to show their support. It’s time for the government, MPI and the Minister for Oceans & Fisheries Rachel Brooking to listen to these voices and act to ban trawl methods from the Gulf.
“The movement against bottom trawling is strong, and it won’t be stopped. Moving away from this method is urgent. We need political leaders with the courage to stand up to industry interests, and start making real gains for ocean protection before it’s too late.”