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Kahawai decisions based on poor advice



Kahawai decisions to cut commercial quotas were based on poor advice

10th November 2006

The conflict that has lead to the Kahawai case currently underway in the Auckland High Court would not have occurred if the then Fisheries Minister had been properly advised on the real size of the kahawai resource , says Eric Barratt, chief executive of Sanford Ltd.

“Decisions on the fishery must be made on the best available science, not on politics,” said Mr Barratt.

“The Fisheries Minister received poor advice on the likely yields from the kahawai resource because the scientific assessment of the stocks was not corrected for new information on the supposed level of recreational catch. If the proper scientific analysis had been done, as it should have been, then there would have been no need to cut either the commercial or recreational catch allocations. Consequently, the decrease in Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACCs) of 15% in its first year was entirely unnecessary and not based on the best available science. Moreover the subsequent 10% decrease the following year was misguided as it was unjustified on any scientific basis. It can only be put down to political whim and there is no place for that type of decision making in the responsible management of our fisheries,” said Mr Barratt.

Under current arrangements, the commercial sector contributes approximately $35 million per year to ensure New Zealand’s fisheries are sustainably utilised. The Ministry of Fisheries is responsible for ensuring this is used for independent scientific research which the Minister can base his decisions on in determining Total Allowable Catch (TAC) levels for fish stocks. At the very least, the Industry has the right to expect competent scientific analysis, given the substantial sums of money that it is required to pay toward this research. Unfortunately, on this occasion the poor scientific analysis of the likely sustainable yields available from the kahawai resource fell well short of our expectations. This in turn led the Minister to unnecessarily reduce the commercial kahawai fishery by a whopping 25%. Sanford is now asking the High Court to send these poor decisions back to the Minister for a proper reconsideration.


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