Skipjack tuna is the most abundant of the major commercial tuna species and takes just four years to reach maturity. Photo / Greg Bowker
Seamounts are undersea mountains that rise at least 1000m off the seafloor. Collectively, they form the largest wildlife habitat on Earth, covering more of the Earth's surface than rainforests, deserts or tundra.
Fish congregate on the slopes of seamounts, as do corals and crustaceans. These are regions of high productivity due to ocean currents flowing up the seamount and bringing nutrients upwards from the depths of the ocean towards the warm surface.
People have trawled for fish in these areas for a very long time, using nets that run over the seafloor.
This method, while necessary to catch fish, makes it tough for coral and others to live where the nets run.
Two weeks ago, Sealord proposed that 89 per cent of known seamounts in New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) should be placed into conservation.
The plan would protect 127 of New Zealand's 142 known seamounts from all bottom trawling.
The proposal is an unprecedented commitment to protecting life on the seabed, in tandem with the ongoing protection of providing fish within the fixed Government quota limits.
Some may wonder why we should want such a thing.
Primarily it's because Sealord values sustainability. We want to do it for the same reason New Zealand has fishing quotas: to preserve abundant marine life on the seafloor so the population remains healthy.
12 May, 2022 05:00 PMQuick Read
11 May, 2022 05:00 PMQuick Read
10 May, 2022 05:00 PMQuick Read
9 May, 2022 05:00 PMQuick Read
This plan is what we all understand as living sustainably; to conserve the marine environment and continue fishing at a level that allows marine life to keep regenerating.
Sealord has worked out that it only needs to fish 11 per cent of seamounts to catch enough to contribute to the 700 million fish meals that deep-sea trawling produces annually. These meals feed New Zealanders, employ locals and earn export dollars the country uses to buy things from overseas, such as electric vehicles.
Currently, about 50 per cent of seamounts (71 of 142) are protected from bottom trawling through Benthic Protection Areas (BPAs) and Seamount Closure Areas (SCAs). Of the remaining 71 seamounts, 56 have never been trawled.
That leaves 15, or 11 per cent, that are trawled, and where the seabed is already disturbed.
This proposal is sustainable and achievable because it locks in the present practice and locks away the rest in a conservation envelope.
Some activists are campaigning for a ban on the fishing of all seamounts. This has been timed to coincide with a Government-led process that is working out what level of seamount fishing is sustainable.
The campaigners responded to our proposal, saying New Zealand needs to shut down all seamount fishing because there is an "extinction crisis". No studies show an "extinction crisis" on the seafloor. It seems very unlikely that fishing only 11 per cent of seamounts would cause the extinction of any species.
The campaign has shrewdly enlarged the things it wants banned. It now claims there are 800 seamounts, not the 142 mapped by Niwa of mountains over 1000 metres high. The features being talked about are undersea hills and knolls. These can be protected, and many are.
Sealord is open to discussing more protection once we conclude the seamount discussion.
The campaigners do not explain what will be achieved by banning fishing. That's because there would only be a small percentage increase in the volume of coral, crabs and other seafloor dwellers.
That's a good thing, but there would be no significant improvement in the quality of the ecosystem.
The unique species down there, and some of them might be native to this region, survive and thrive under our plan almost as much as they would under total conservation.
The opposition to our proposal reveals the contrast between New Zealanders' ideas of sustainability and activists' ideas of conservation.
Harvesting food, from the wild or farms, always damages something. The aim of sustainability is that the damage we cause in order to live does not overwhelm other species and ecosystems.
New Zealand trawls just 2-3 per cent of its EEZ seabed each year, returning to the same fishing grounds. Only 8 per cent of the entire EEZ has ever been trawled.
It is remarkable that most of our domestic fish supply is caught by trawling in such a small area, compared to the proportion of land New Zealand uses for food production.
The campaign against seamount fishing is designed to make you feel bad. It is not bothered by the consequences of stopping access to a valuable food source. This approach, extended across all land and seafood production, is a recipe for human starvation.
You should not be made to feel bad for eating fish or anything else taken from the land or water, if it is done sustainably.
We all know sustainability is the answer. It is the approach we take to the marine environment with the quota system, now 30 years old and internationally acclaimed for keeping fish stocks healthy.
It is also the approach we should take for life on the seabed.
Doug Paulin is CEO of the country's largest deepsea seafood company Sealord.
Go here to see the original:
- Sources - French prospect Rayan Rupert to play in New Zealand - ESPN - June 11th, 2022
- New Zealand take charge of second Test with England left to rue missed chances - The Guardian - June 11th, 2022
- New Zealand batters thrive without Williamson and teach England lesson - The Guardian - June 11th, 2022
- Air New Zealand raises annual earnings forecast on improved demand - Reuters - June 11th, 2022
- New Zealand plans in tatters after Kane Williamson is ruled out with Covid-19 - The Guardian - June 11th, 2022
- New Zealand sets up helpline for adults sexually attracted to children - The Guardian - June 11th, 2022
- I just flew to Sydney, and yes, New Zealand is (still) a hermit kingdom - Stuff - June 11th, 2022
- Cheat Sheet: Why is New Zealand so obsessed with the weather? - Stuff - June 11th, 2022
- Five of the best small New Zealand towns to visit in June - Stuff - June 11th, 2022
- Senior VP Dave Shaw: UFC 'actively trying to get back' to Canada, New Zealand and Australia - MMA Junkie - June 11th, 2022
- New Zealand make hay as England suffer from winning good toss to lose - The Guardian - June 11th, 2022
- Bad weather to blame in NZ paraglider Charlotte O'Leary's death in France - New Zealand Herald - June 11th, 2022
- New Zealand sweat on Reid fitness ahead of World Cup playoff - Reuters - June 11th, 2022
- New Zealand Toast Triple Gold In Mackay | Scoop News - Scoop - June 11th, 2022
- Underplayed to the point of parody, is Daryl Mitchell the uber-Kiwi? - ESPNcricinfo - June 11th, 2022
- How hard is it to lure nurses to New Zealand? - RNZ - June 11th, 2022
- Premium Debate: New Zealand has changed, and not for the better - Bay of Plenty Times - June 11th, 2022
- Is this Auckland property New Zealand's most valuable nugget of land? - Stuff - June 11th, 2022
- Heavy rain, snow, tornados to hit parts of New Zealand over the weekend - Newshub - June 11th, 2022
- New Zealand Legend Ross Taylor Hints At Possible Return To T20 Cricket - Cricket Addictor - June 11th, 2022
- American Airlines: The decision that led to return to New Zealand - New Zealand Herald - June 11th, 2022
- New Zealand Aids Foundation dropping Aids from its name - Stuff - June 11th, 2022
- New Zealand woman placed in abusive foster care wins appeal against deportation from Australia - RNZ - June 11th, 2022
- New Zealand were 'slightly undercooked' at Lord's; they'll come hard in second Test: Nasser Hussain - The New Indian Express - June 11th, 2022
- The best places in New Zealand to work from home - Stuff - June 11th, 2022
- England vs New Zealand live stream: how to watch 1st Test cricket 2022 online from anywhere - TechRadar - June 1st, 2022
- California and New Zealand Partner to Advance Global Climate Leadership | California Governor - Office of Governor Gavin Newsom - June 1st, 2022
- In Advance of New Zealand Borders Reopening, NZ Minister of Education Hipkins Champions Study-Abroad Opportunities in New Zealand - Business Wire - June 1st, 2022
- How to Watch Into the Wild New Zealand Series Premiere: Live Stream, TV Channel, Start Time - Sports Illustrated - June 1st, 2022
- From the Archives | England v New Zealand | Lord's - Lord's - June 1st, 2022
- Southee: 'The Kiwi way is to muck in and get the best out of what we've got' - ESPNcricinfo - June 1st, 2022
- Major New Zealand salmon producer shuts farms as warming waters cause mass die-offs - The Guardian - June 1st, 2022
- Kane Williamson working out who is ready to go for New Zealand - The Independent - June 1st, 2022
- Winner of Miss Teen New Zealand pageant has her sights set on overseas - Stuff - June 1st, 2022
- Stinky seaweed is clogging Caribbean beaches but a New Zealand solution could turn it into green power and fertiliser - Stuff - June 1st, 2022
- Resurgent COVID-19, flu and other viruses are pushing New Zealand's health system to the limit and now winter is coming - The Conversation Indonesia - June 1st, 2022
- New footage of flying air taxis coming to New Zealand - Stuff - June 1st, 2022
- West Coast cave closed to protect New Zealand's weirdest spider - New Zealand Herald - June 1st, 2022
- One-quarter of New Zealand police officers now women - Newshub - June 1st, 2022
- Petrol on the Fire: The two words from a Prime Minister that set off a fierce reaction Chapter 3: Spies and Brides - Stuff - June 1st, 2022
- Matariki celebrations and New Zealand winter warmers to add to the calendar - New Zealand Herald - June 1st, 2022
- Gregor Paul: The many red flags in NZ Rugby's Silver Lake deal - New Zealand Herald - June 1st, 2022
- New Zealand again falls short of meeting commitment to refugees - Stuff - June 1st, 2022
- New Zealand to train Ukrainians on L119 howitzer - DefenseNews.com - May 25th, 2022
- I thought I was imagining things: New Zealand readers on close encounters with city birds - The Guardian - May 25th, 2022
- New Zealand has just joined an overtly anti-China alliance are the economic risks worth it? - The Conversation Indonesia - May 25th, 2022
- Reader call-out: What are your best memories of New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street? - The Guardian - May 25th, 2022
- Price of New Zealand passport rises - 1News - May 25th, 2022
- More people leaving New Zealand than entering as young flee high cost of living - The Guardian - May 25th, 2022
- New Zealands promised action on climate is nothing more than a tottering babys first steps - The Guardian - May 25th, 2022
- How will the Australia-New Zealand relationship change? - RNZ - May 25th, 2022
- Livestreams of Mass Shootings: From Buffalo to New Zealand - The New York Times - May 25th, 2022
- WWF-New Zealand: New Tech Is A Win-Win For Conservation And Fisheries | Scoop News - Scoop - May 25th, 2022
- New Zealand participation at World Expo crucial to build 'soft power' globally - Stuff - May 25th, 2022
- New Zealand Coastal Shipping Boost Biggest Turnaround This Century | Scoop News - Scoop - May 25th, 2022
- New Zealand Leads Medical Breakthrough In Oxygen Therapy | Scoop News - Scoop - May 25th, 2022
- Kane Williamson Set To Join New Zealand Team Ahead Of Test Series Against England - Cricket Addictor - May 25th, 2022
- Unicef report finds if everyone consumed resources like New Zealand, we would need 2.7 Earths to keep up with consumption - Newshub - May 25th, 2022
- How the Bay of Plenty could be one of New Zealand's best food destinations - New Zealand Herald - May 25th, 2022
- Dukes balls criticised ahead of New Zealand's three-test series versus England - Stuff - May 25th, 2022
- England v New Zealand live stream and team news: Ben Stokes to start role as captain against Kane... - talkSPORT - May 25th, 2022
- Coroner to open investigation into death of New Zealander Joseph Day this week - New Zealand Herald - May 25th, 2022
- Sickness season: How is New Zealand tracking with non-Covid illnesses? - New Zealand Herald - May 25th, 2022
- Gregor Paul: How New Zealand's drop goal stigma is handing an advantage to the North - New Zealand Herald - May 25th, 2022
- Covid-19 update: 17 further deaths, 7800 cases reported in New Zealand - RNZ - May 25th, 2022
- Head of Qualitative Practice be the heartbeat of Qual, Auckland, New Zealand - B&T - May 25th, 2022
- Tall poppy syndrome and 'proudly local': The things Kiwi expats notice about New Zealand that tourists don't - Stuff - May 21st, 2022
- Obituary - David Ian Pool: The Father of Aotearoa New Zealand Demography - Stuff - May 21st, 2022
- New Zealand battered by machine gun tornado - PerthNow - May 21st, 2022
- 30 years on... The unveiling of a New Zealand sporting great - Stuff - May 21st, 2022
- Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022: New Zealand announce 18-strong athletics team - New Zealand Herald - May 21st, 2022
- MMMBop hitmakers Hanson to play one New Zealand show in November - Stuff - May 21st, 2022
- New Zealand overtourism: Residents invite tourists to 'tread lightly and leave no trace' - Euronews - May 21st, 2022
- Former New Zealand Women Cricketer Katey Martin Reveals Reason Behind Early Retirement - Cricketnmore - May 21st, 2022
- Special Ukraine visa: Jump in the number of people seeking refuge in NZ - RNZ - May 21st, 2022
- Former lock picker and hacker to represent New Zealand at global cyber security event - Newshub - May 21st, 2022
- We need to spend billions replacing old hospitals - so who should pay? - Stuff - May 21st, 2022
- Massive 6.7 magnitude earthquake hits near New Zealand and Australia prompting Tsunami fears... - The US Sun - May 21st, 2022
- Easy ride to mental health - New Zealand News - New Zealand Herald - May 21st, 2022
- Snowfall warnings as severe 'winter blast' bears down on New Zealand - Stuff - May 21st, 2022