Forest&Bird says fisheries green tick not deserved

Press Release – Forest And Bird

Independent conservation organisation Forest & Bird says fisheries management is not as green as Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley claims, following a report on global fisheries management standards. Forest & Bird does not believe the report should …

Forest & Bird says fisheries green tick not deserved

Independent conservation organisation Forest & Bird says fisheries management is not as green as Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley claims, following a report on global fisheries management standards.

Forest & Bird does not believe the report should be seen as giving New Zealand fisheries a green tick.

The research paper – “Rebuilding Global Fisheries” – looked at 19 of the 629 fish caught stocks in New Zealand waters.

“If the report had assessed the remaining 610 stocks, the picture may not have been so rosy,” Forest & Bird marine conservation advocate Kirstie Knowles says.

A key finding of the report was that stocks should be managed well above a benchmark at which point fish stocks begin the decline towards collapse (maximum sustainable yield). “Most New Zealand stocks are at or below this benchmark or their status is unknown,” Kirstie Knowles says.

Orange roughy is one of our best assessed fisheries, yet it was not considered in the research paper. Orange roughy is New Zealand’s worst fishery in Forest & Bird’s Best Fish Guide because many of its stocks have collapsed – some to less that 5% of original unfished population levels – and its fishing gear has severely damaged seafloor habitats.

Our well-loved snapper are also in trouble in some areas, with stocks estimated at about 10% of original population levels.

The research did not consider the impacts of destructive fishing methods, the bycatch of seabirds, marine mammals and other non-target marine life nor our fisheries management outcomes.

Forest & Bird does not agree with Minister of Fisheries Phil Heatley that this report gives a green tick to all New Zealand fisheries. “Just because we have a good fisheries assessment process, it does not mean that we are good at implementing it,” Kirstie Knowles says.

“A key problem is our fisheries research is underfunded, particularly on the environmental impacts of fisheries. This year the Fisheries Ministry’s science budget was cut 30%, all of which covered environmental research.

“Independent science consultants Dragonfly recently released a report for the Ministry of Fisheries showing that in 2006-7 alone an estimated 3107 seabirds and 542 marine mammals were killed in our trawl and long-line fisheries,” she says.

Forest & Bird encourages fishers using environmentally sustainable fishing practices and calls on fishers using destructive fishing practices to change their ways.

Forest & Bird publishes the Best Fish Guide, a comprehensive assessment of New Zealand’s wild stock fisheries using the Government’s best available information on the biology, status and management of stocks; the environmental impact of fishing methods and the impacts on protected and threatened species. An updated guide is out in November.

ENDS

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