Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Greenpeace is calling for seamounts and similar ocean features to be protected from trawling, as the latest fishing bycatch data indicates the New Zealand fleet dragged up seven tonnes of coral in a single year.
But given observers cover only a fraction of commercial vessels, this indicates at least 7.1 tonnes of protected coral were dragged up by the trawl fleet in total.
Greenpeace spokesperson Ellie Hooper says as these corals predominantly grow on seamounts and similar features – underwater mountains, hills and knolls – the simple way to stop their destruction is to ban trawling from these areas.
“This report shows that the commercial fishing industry is still bulldozing Aotearoa’s deep-sea corals at an alarming rate,” she says.
“These habitats are vital to the health of the ocean as a whole. They act as nurseries for juvenile fish, have unique and endemic species living on them, which in turn provide food for animals further up the food chain.
“When bottom trawlers drag their heavy nets through these areas, they cause serious and lasting damage, as is seen by the coral coming up in the net.”
But recent science confirms that what comes up in the net only tells part of the story. 7.1 tonnes coming up indicates that somewhere between 763 and 2,401 tonnes of coral were destroyed on the seabed. 
Alongside the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC), Greenpeace is campaigning to protect all seamounts and similar features from bottom contact fishing.
“If we keep trawling these coral-rich areas we are in deep trouble,” says Hooper.
“The Government has a choice to make. They can either protect Aotearoa’s amazing deep-sea corals, and all the life they support. Or they can continue to vote for ocean destruction at the hands of the bottom trawling industry.
“Close to 70,000 New Zealanders want seamounts protected, it’s high time the Government listened to them.”