End commercial fishing in New Zealand waters to save endangered species - Vegan Society
The Vegan Society calls for a ban on commercial fishing in New Zealand waters, citing overfishing, wasteful practices, and endangerment of species. Urgent action is needed to preserve marine life.
Today marks World End of Fishing Day, a day to raise awareness about the trillions of fish killed every year. Sadly, many of them are not even consumed, but rather a waste product of other fisheries. With overfishing occurring globally, many fish species are on the brink of extinction, including the long-finned eel in Aotearoa. Despite this, the government permits the commercial fishing and exportation of 100 tonnes of these eels, and countless others are caught by individuals. This is unsustainable and unacceptable.
"Fish are often forgotten victims of our inhumanity. We poison their home, we kill them indiscriminately, and we engage in wasteful practices," says Claire Insley, media spokesperson for the Society. "We need a complete ban on commercial fishing and more marine reserves in our offshore waters to protect our remaining species and allow declining populations to recover."
Even with line fishing, there is bycatch, with approximately 20% of species caught being unwanted. All bycatch is killed, including many undersized fish, which prevents future generations of fish.
Unfortunately, despite government reports on the problems faced by eels, their fishing continues. The annual whitebaiting season is also a "tradition" in New Zealand, but four of the five whitebait species are endangered. There are few controls over how much whitebaiting occurs or how much is taken.
Humans do not need to eat fish. The use of huge trawlers that scrape the seabed, removing all life and taking everything in massive nets, is unsustainable. According to estimates, approximately 40% of sea creatures caught are "unwanted bycatch," which is a wasteful practice that cannot continue.
It is crucial that we seek to preserve currently at-risk fish species, as once they go extinct, there is no coming back. Maui dolphins are often bycatch in many fisheries around Aotearoa. This critically endangered species cannot continue to survive under these conditions. The Hauraki Gulf should be declared a Marine Sanctuary, and a total ban on all fishing in the area should be enacted immediately.
According to the Department of Conservation, 76% of indigenous fish and 26% of indigenous invertebrates were classified as either threatened with or at risk of extinction in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Species include four of the five whitebait species, the longfin eel, lamprey, Stokell's smelt, South Island freshwater crayfish, and two of the three freshwater mussel species.
In addition, 22% of indigenous marine mammals and 9% of sharks, rays, and chimaeras are also at risk of extinction. There is not enough information to assess the conservation status of 39% of sharks, rays, and chimaeras and 67% of marine mammals. 15% of the identified species of marine invertebrates are classified as data deficient.
It's time for us to take action to protect our marine life. Let's ban commercial fishing, establish more marine reserves, and regulate whitebaiting. Let's show empathy towards fish and other marine animals, who are often forgotten victims of our inhumanity.