In DOC’s 2019-2020 protected species bycatch report released this week, an estimated seven tonnes of protected coral has been destroyed by the New Zealand commercial fishing fleet, almost all by trawlers. Coral bycatch by the deepwater bottom trawl fleet increased by 4% from 527 kgs in 2018/19 to 546.5 kgs in 2019/20, and NZ trawlers has destroyed between 763 and 2,401 tonnes of coral on the seabed in 2019/20.
Tui Shortland quotes: “Many of our coral around Aotearoa cannot be found anywhere else in the world, they are unclassified by science and extremely fragile. Our coral is slow growing and they are vital for the health of the moana and the health of the planet. Kaoa (coral) are the most biodiverse ecosystems in the moana (ocean) and they provide essential breeding grounds for traditional cuisine causing micro-nutrient deficiencies in indigenous communities. What the fisheries of New Zealand is doing is essentially allowing the destruction of the Amazon of the ocean.”
Many corals live on sea mounts. There are well over 800 seamounts in Aotearoa with a complex seafloor having no “typical” seamount. Kaoa are also essential biomes for climate stability. They act as nature’s water filtration system. Likewise coral reefs are essential for protecting shorelines from storm damage by absorbing 70-90% of wave energy.
Damage to the coral reef structure further reduces the productivity of the area, thus adversely affecting both the reef-dependent fish populations and also the livelihoods of fishers and nearby communities.