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New bottom-trawling rules in South Pacific leave many wondering whether they hurt or help

Environmental advocates have long called for a ban on bottom trawling on seamounts in the South Pacific’s international waters, and they hoped one would finally be instituted at a regional meeting in Manta, Ecuador, in February. But the trawling, which has declined in scale over the last decade, will be permitted to go on.

Bottom trawling involves dragging heavy nets and trawl “doors” along the seabed that run roughshod over any organisms or structures in their path; scientists have compared it to clear-cutting a forest.

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