3 Sep 2009

Nations agree deal to tackle illegal deep sea fishing

5:21 pm on 3 September 2009

New Zealand is part of an international agreement against deep sea illegal fishing.

Ninety-one countries have agreed on the treaty, brokered by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation in Rome, which aims to stop fish pirate activities.

The agreement will create regulations to better control the flow of illegal, unreported and unregulated seafood product through world ports, estimated to be valued between $US4 billion to $US9 billion dollars a year.

New Zealand is on the doorstep of two of the richest deep sea fisheries - tuna in the Pacific ocean and toothfish in Antarctic waters.

Ministry of Fisheries international fisheries manager Jane Willing says the agreement will have a major impact on New Zealand's tuna and toothfish interests.

The Federation of Commercial Fishermen says it supports ratifying the agreement as it will better protect their interests.

The federation believes there is a risk New Zealand's deep sea fishing interests could be destroyed by fish pirates.

It says though the Fisheries Act is effective in protecting interests within the exclusive economic zone, there has been concern about less regulated deep sea areas such as the Ross Sea in Antarctica.

The treaty is expected to be formally signed in Rome in December.