An editorial in this week’s Waikato Times highlights the issue of commercial fisheries in the Antarctic.
The topic was also raised last month, when South African ecologist Professor Steven L Chown gave a lecture in New Zealand arguing that our government should seek special marine protection status for the whole of the Ross Sea in Antarctica. A recoding of Prof Chown’s lecture and a Q&A on Antarctic protection, are available here.
An excerpt of the editorial (read in full here):
Editorial – NZ’s dirty fishing secret
The country is heavily focused on the environmental catastrophe triggered by the grounding of the Rena. But while we argue about who should have done what to minimise the damage, other conservation issues are apt to be put on the backburner. The future of the Ross Sea and the world’s southern-most fishery 800 kilometres northeast of Scott Base, for example.
The Ross Sea, the last intact ocean ecosystem on the planet, is free of pollution, invasive species and mining. The Commission for the Conservation of the Antarctic Marine Living Resources, the 25-country body that manages the marine resources, wants it to stay that way. There’s a snag: New Zealand.
A Ministry of Fisheries document leaked to Fairfax shows Wellington, backed by the United States, does not want all the Ross Sea declared a marine protected area. Maps in the document show a big chunk would be excluded from a marine park, allowing the fishing industry to keep catching toothfish – a lucrative business for our fishing industry.