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Decision Good News for Tuna Fishing Industry

Government Quota Decision Good News for Tuna Fishing Industry

The New Zealand Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC) says the Government’s decision to provide a preferential allocation of by-catch quota to tuna quota owners is good news.

Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope announced on Monday (December 6) that the Government would give $9 million worth of quota to tuna fishers in response to ongoing problems they faced due to a mismatch in tuna catch history on which quota entitlements are calculated and the quota set for other associated species caught as by-catch.

“The industry is appreciative of the Government’s action and it will provide certainty and a framework that will allow fishers to get on and make the best commercial decisions for their business,” said New Zealand Seafood Industry Council Chief Executive, Owen Symmans.

“Fishermen have been left in limbo until now, as they have not known how they would manage the by-catch species which are caught as part of the normal tuna fishing operation.”

The decision will enable quota for by-catch of species like blue shark, mako shark, moonfish, porbeagle shark and Ray's bream to be matched to the tuna quota allocation.

“Some fishers will be disappointed that swordfish has not been allocated on the same basis, but all in all, the Government move will provide an opportunity for the industry to move forward,” Mr Symmans said.

Tuna fishing has expanded significantly in the last decade. There are around 500 tuna fishing operators in New Zealand and the industry is worth around $30 million annually with strong growth potential for expanding exports, particularly as seafood is increasingly seen in global markets as an essential part of the regular diet because of its nutritional value as a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acid.

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