NZ, US reach compromise over Ross Sea

By Kate Shuttleworth

New Zealand's negotiator Carolyn Schwalger said the accord would not reduce New Zealand's $20 million a year toothfish harvest. Photo / Wayne Drought
New Zealand's negotiator Carolyn Schwalger said the accord would not reduce New Zealand's $20 million a year toothfish harvest. Photo / Wayne Drought

The United States and New Zealand have set aside their differences and reached a compromise to advance a joint proposal for the world's largest marine protected area in the Ross Sea.

They have agreed to a proposal covering 2.27 million square kilometres that will allow fishing in certain areas rather than banning it altogether.

In September the Government rejected a US proposal for a marine reserve that would have offered greater protection than New Zealand wanted for the Antarctic toothfish in the Ross Sea.

New Zealand companies take a large proportion of the annual Ross Sea toothfish catch - last year they landed 730 tonnes with an export value of $20 million.

New Zealand's negotiator Carolyn Schwalger said the accord would not reduce New Zealand's $20 million a year toothfish harvest.

"It's a very good balance between conservation and sustainable fishing," she said.

Labour's associate foreign affairs spokeswoman Maryan Street was pleased a consensus had been reached.

"Arriving at an accord over the territory in this pristine environment to be protected from exploitation is a much more mature and co-operative result than having no agreement and therefore no protection.

"In positioning New Zealand to protect fisheries' interests worth $20 million a year, National was prepared to sacrifice our ability to develop wider economic interests in promoting New Zealand (and Christchurch in particular) as the gateway to Antarctica - something that contributed around $288 million to the economy this year," said Ms Street.

- APNZ

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