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 user 2006-11-28 at 11:11:00 am Views: 47
  • #17045

    Ban on ‘brutal’ fishing blocked
    Nations negotiations on fisheries have ended without a global ban on
    trawling methods which destroy coral reefs and fish nurseries.

    groups and some governments had argued for a ban on bottom-trawling,
    which drags heavy nets and crushing rollers on the sea
    floor.Negotiators could only agree on a limited set of precautionary
    measures.Last month, leading scientists warned there would be no sea
    fish left in 50 years if current practices continued.Negotiations at
    the UN in New York aimed to secure an agreement to go before the
    General Assembly next month.

    Slow growth
    to discussions was bottom-trawling, widely regarded as a destructive
    fishing practice.It targets slow-growing species such as orange roughy,
    which take decades to reach breeding age. Such species are especially
    vulnerable to overfishing because the population replenishes itself
    very slowly.For three years, conservation groups have been pushing for
    a UN moratorium on bottom-trawling; for the third year running, they
    have been disappointed.”We had been hoping the amazing creatures and
    habitats of the deep sea would get an early Christmas present this
    week,” said Bryce Beukers-Stewart, fisheries policy officer with the
    Marine Conservation Society.”But once again, short-term political and
    economic interests have over-ridden common sense.”

    Bottoming out
    nations have bottom-trawling fleets, with Spain’s being the biggest.
    Studies have indicated that none would be commercially viable without
    government subsidies.In 2004, a report compiled for the World
    Conservation Union (IUCN) and other environmental groups concluded that
    bottom-trawling was “…highly destructive to the biodiversity
    associated with seamounts and deep-sea coral ecosystems and… likely
    to pose significant risks to this biodiversity, including the risk of
    species extinction.”In the same year, 1,100 scientists put their names
    to a petition supporting the demand for a moratorium.All this
    scientific evidence could not convince enough UN delegates that a
    moratorium was needed.The eventual deal which goes forward to the
    General Assembly mandates governments to adopt unilateral
    “precautionary measures” to ensure their bottom-trawlers do not cause
    significant damage to marine ecosystems.In areas covered by Regional
    Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs), “precautionary measures”
    must be established by the end of 2008.”The final agreement has more
    loopholes in it than a fisherman’s sweater,” fumed Greenpeace oceans
    policy advisor Karen Sack.Conservation groups accused Iceland in
    particular of blocking further protection. Iceland is already under
    fire from the conservation lobby over its recent decision to resume
    commercial whaling.”The international community should be outraged that
    Iceland could almost single-handedly sink deep-sea protection and the
    food security of future generations,” said Ms Sack.Last month, an
    international team of scientists, having compiled a vast range of data
    from a wide variety of sources, warned that at current rates of
    depletion, there would be no viable populations of fish left in the
    seas by the middle of the century.