Toothfish Threat Taken Seriously

  • Simon Upton
Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

"Unregulated toothfish fishing in the Ross Sea this summer is a possibility that New Zealand is taking seriously," the Associate Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Upton said today. "Toothfish form an important part of the Ross sea marine eco-system. The pressure on toothfish stocks in parts of the Southern Ocean does not appear to be diminishing. The Ross Sea could provide a tempting target for poachers as they fish out grounds elsewhere."

The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has reported that as much as 130,000 tonnes of toothfish worth NZ$600 million may have been taken from Antarctic waters in the past two years contrary to the regulations of the Convention.

"New Zealand is working closely with other parties to CCAMLR to strengthen the Convention's ability to deal with illegal and unregulated fishing throughout the Southern Ocean. We are also looking for other ways of supporting the achievement of the objective of the Convention which is the conservation of the marine living resources of the Antarctic.

"The credibility of CCAMLR is on the line. At the next meeting of the Convention which will be held in Hobart next month we expect the toothfish problem to be a key focus. We are disappointed at the growing evidence that companies and nationals associated with countries which are parties to CCAMLR are behind much of the toothfish plunder. The New Zealand delegation will be taking new proposals to the meeting of the Convention in Hobart next month that could help CCAMLR tackle this problem. We will also be working hard to ensure that countries which are not parties to the Convention do not allow their fishing vessels to undermine CCAMLR.

"I am confident that with strong collective effort through CCAMLR we and other parties to the Convention will be able to enhance the protection available to the uniquely important marine resources of the Ross Sea and the dependent and associated eco-systems of mainland Antarctica," Mr Upton concluded.