PACIFIC NATIONS AGREE TO END BOTTOM TRAWLING

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SYDNEY, Australia (ABC News Online, May 5) – More than 20 countries have agreed to work together to end a method of deep-sea fishing which they say causes huge damage to the environment.

The agreement covers a quarter of the world's oceans and will restrict fishing vessels from dragging huge weighted nets across the sea floor.

Called bottom sea trawling, it is a multi-million dollar industry, but experts say it destroys deep-water coral.

Executive director of Greenpeace New Zealand, Bunny McDiarmid, says it is a very indiscriminate and destructive way of fishing.

"Ahead of the net they have some steel rollers that clear the path for the net to come behind, so that the net doesn't snag on anything," she said. "But pretty much anything that's in the way of the net, like corals or sponges, any kind of sea lice is kind of bowled over to make way for the net behind."

The 20 countries meeting in Chile agreed to impose the restrictions from October until a full scientific study can be undertaken on the effects of bottom trawling.

China, the United States, France, Japan, Chile and South Korea were among the countries signing the agreement.

Russia however did not sign and says it will continue fishing in the same way.

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