Ministry of Fisheries becomes by-catch

Press Release – Green Party

The Green Party is alarmed at today’s proposed restructuring of the Ministry of Fisheries, which ignores sustainability and environmental issues that threaten the fishing industry’s future and our clean green image. “Protecting the sustainability of the fisheries …

30 April 2009

Ministry of Fisheries becomes by-catch to Govt agenda

The Green Party is alarmed at today’s proposed restructuring of the Ministry of Fisheries, which ignores sustainability and environmental issues that threaten the fishing industry’s future and our clean green image. “Protecting the sustainability of the fisheries is crucial for the long-term survival of the fishing industry and the marine environment,” said Green Party Fisheries Spokesperson Metiria Turei MP.

“For fishing to remain economic, the sustainability of our fish stocks is critical.

“And for New Zealand to continue to make money from our clean green brand, the protection of the marine environment is critical.”

The Ministry’s statement notes that the restructuring will “focus particularly on realising economic development gains and improving efficiency”. There is no focus on improving sustainability.

“Maintaining fisheries staff – especially the front-line officers, observing and monitoring the industry – is vital,” Mrs Turei said, “especially around the South Island where much of our fishery is based and where seabird and marine mammal by-catch is heaviest.

The Ministry’s proposal will see South Island-based roles move to Wellington and Auckland. “Reducing staff will only lead to more unsustainable practice and a reduction in fish numbers,” said Mrs Turei.

“Many fish stocks are already at dangerously low levels – orange roughy is near collapse, and blue cod and snapper are a mere shadow of their former numbers.”

The latest Department of Conservation listing of endangered birds exposed that seabirds are in serious decline due to unsustainable fishing practices, particularly in the Southern Ocean. Iconic marine mammals like the New Zealand sea lion are also declining rapidly.

Mrs Turei said, “Anything but an increase in the Ministry’s work to ensure sustainability and protect marine mammals will bring our industry into international disrepute and reduce our international market access. “And we face the real possibility of losing some species like the Hectors and Maui dolphins for good. No New Zealander wants that. “This restructuring is a first step in the Government’s agenda to move to industry self-management. Self-management will be a disaster – the commercial fishing industry has continually opposed measures to ensure sustainable management of fish stocks, reduce by-catch and prevent marine mammals being slaughtered.”

References: Ministry of Fisheries’ statement – http://www.fish.govt.nz/en-nz/Press/Changes+to+Ministry+of+Fisheries+organisational+design+proposed.htm DOC report on bird status – http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/0904/Bird_conservation_status_2008.pdf

ENDS

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