Ending Bottom Trawling on Seamounts in New Zealand

A bubblegum coral, estimated to be around 500 years old, is dumped overboard by a New Zealand bottom trawler in the South Pacific Ocean.

Greenpeace/ Malcolm Pullman
Grantee Deep Sea Conservation Coalition
Grant Amount 502000
Duration Two Years

One of the world’s most destructive fishing methods is bottom trawling, which involves dragging massive nets across the seafloor, destroying almost everything in their path. In Aotearoa New Zealand, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC), in an alliance with local environment and fishing groups that are members of the DSCC, is campaigning to get the government to ban bottom trawling on seamounts. These underwater mountains are home to ancient, slow-growing corals and support complex ecosystems.

Deep-sea corals can be wiped out by a single trawl, and every year New Zealand trawlers drag up many tonnes of corals, damaging or destroying fragile ecosystems in New Zealand and the South Pacific. Many of the creatures killed by bottom trawl nets are new to science. We also know that bottom trawling creates huge carbon emissions. In a world facing twin crises of biodiversity extinction and climate change, there is no excuse for fishing this way. But the tide is turning on this devastating fishing practice. Last year, a petition of more than 50,000 signatures called on the government of Aotearoa New Zealand to end bottom trawling on seamounts and similar deep sea features. The government now has the opportunity to protect these amazing ocean ecosystems, and shift the fishing industry to lower-impact methods that catch fish, not ancient corals.