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Seafood industry defends destructive practice

Representatives of New Zealand’s deepwater seafood industry appeared before the Environment Select Committee on 11 November to advise government about trawling on seamounts.

Deepwater Group CEO George Clement advised members that both the Select Committee and the New Zealand public must be given the correct scientific information on which to base any decisions on whether or not any additional management measures might be required.

Earlier this year, the Environment Select Committee heard from the Deep-Sea Conservation Coalition, following that group’s submission of a petition in November last year calling for a ban on bottom trawl fishing on seamounts and similar deep-sea features.

“While we acknowledge the work of the various conservation groups behind this petition, we are concerned with the level of misinformation that has been provided to government in support of it,” Clement said.

“Many of the conclusions, along with much of the reference material, are only relevant in an international context and are not directly applicable within New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ),” Clement said.

“We are grateful to the Select Committee for providing us with the opportunity to submit on this matter and to provide the Committee with the best available facts on the management of bottom trawling on seamounts.”

As an example, Clement said the petition stated there were more than 800 known seamounts in New Zealand’s EEZ.

“NIWA and Fisheries New Zealand advise that there are 142 seamounts, 127 of which are either closed to bottom trawling or have never been fished.

Clement says management of New Zealand’s EEZ and the deepwater seafood industry is internationally lauded.

“Nineteen of our most important fisheries are certified sustainable against the science-based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) requirements – these comprehensive standards are the most robust and science-based standards in the world for ecosystem-based fisheries management. MSC certification of our main deepwater fisheries put us in the top 5 per cent of the best-managed fisheries in the world.”

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