Pact Reached to Curb Bottom Trawling

The European Union and the 20 nations party to the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization have agreed to curb the practice of bottom trawling in the South Pacific. This huge step in marine conservation, reached at a meeting in Renaca, Chile, will take effect on September 30—with particular importance to New Zealand, whose fishermen are responsible for 90 percent of bottom trawling in the South Pacific.

The highly destructive, indiscriminate fishing method, whereby boats drag weighted nets along the seabed, produces large numbers of bycatch and destroys the ocean floor. Slow-growing species such as the orange roughy and deep-water corals are bottom trawling’s most vulnerable victims.

The pact will safeguard Pacific Ocean ecosystems, from Australia to South America and the Equator to the Antarctic, by requiring the presence of observers (at the expense of the fishing vessel) and banning bottom trawling without the implementation of precautionary measures in vulnerable areas. Unfortunately, no agreements were reached at the meeting to provide relief for the exploited Chilean jack mackerel, which has seen massive declines from irresponsible fishing practices in recentyears.