“Chile is a key coastal state in the eastern South Pacific,” said Mr Benson-Pope. “At a meeting held last week with New Zealand officials, the Chilean Under-Secretary of Fisheries committed to join with New Zealand and Australia to develop a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation to cover non-tuna fisheries in the South Pacific region. This includes species like orange roughy, alfonsino, oreo dories and jack mackerel.
“It is vital that we secure international buy-in and corporation so that management measures are effective and binding on all states with vessels fishing in the area," said Mr Benson-Pope. “A key role of the new organisation will be to manage the adverse impacts of fishing activity on biodiversity, including the seafloor.
"Bottom trawling can take a heavy toll on marine life in vulnerable areas and it is in everybody’s interests to improve management of the practice throughout the world.”
New Zealand and Australia began taking action early this year to establish the new regional fisheries management organisation, which will plug gaps in the legal framework for the conservation and management of high seas fisheries.
“The most practical solution globally to problems caused by deep sea bottom trawling is to have more effective management of high seas areas,” Mr Benson-Pope said. “New Zealand places a great deal of significance on fisheries cooperation in the Pacific and Southern Oceans. Our desire is to work with other nations in the region to promote international ‘best practice’ in fisheries management, and the protection of the environment."
The next stage will come in February 2006, when New Zealand will host the first inter-governmental meeting with interested states, to discuss the establishment of the new organisation.
"Until the new organisation is up and running, New Zealand will seek agreement with other states on interim measures to manage the existing fisheries and impacts of fishing activity on the environment," Mr Benson-Pope said.