BBC reports that a quarter of the world's oceans will be protected from fishing boats which drag heavy nets across the sea floor. South Pacific nations have agreed to a landmark deal that will restrict bottom trawling, which destroys coral reefs and stirs up clouds of sediment that suffocate marine life. Observers and monitoring systems will ensure vessels remain five nautical miles from marine ecosystems at risk. The agreement reached in the coastal town of Renaca in Chile will come into force on 30 September, 2007:
It will close to bottom trawling areas where vulnerable marine ecosystems are known or are likely to exist, unless a prior assessment is undertaken and highly precautionary protective measures are implemented.
The delegation from New Zealand, whose fishermen are responsible for 90% of bottom trawling in the South Pacific high seas, said the restrictions would "severely constrain" its fishing vessels.
"Because of the cost implications of the necessary research and assessment and observer requirements, it may even have the effect of putting an end to bottom trawling," it said.
The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, an alliance of leading environmental and conservation groups, welcomed the agreement.
"This is a major step forward in the protection of biodiversity on the high seas," Matthew Gianni, a spokesman for the group, said.
China, the United States, France, Japan, Chile and South Korea were among the countries signing the agreement, according to ABC.
I'm always happy when I find good news like this...
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