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Industry still has concerns over MPA process

Seafood industry still has concerns over revised MPA process

14 February 2008

The proposed process for establishing MPAs (marine protected areas) is of concern to the seafood industry, says New Zealand Seafood Industry Council’s chief executive, Owen Symmans.

“Fishing is a legitimate and important activity – both commercially and recreationally – for New Zealand. We are providing food, be it for our families or the world. We want to be very sure that the benefits of any bio-diversity protection mechanism are not outweighed by the cost,” he said.

“We support and have a vested in interest in protecting New Zealand’s marine bio-diversity and ensuring long term sustainability of our fisheries. However, it’s disappointing that the MPA process lacks any opportunity for national co-ordination or for any national overview other than government’s.”

Mr Symmans said that the MPAs would have maximum impact on commercial, recreational and customary fishing and yet the proposed process involving Marine Protection Planning Forums excludes national representative bodies from the process.

“Additionallly, the forums – and the existing West Coast forum is a good example – will need to have balanced representation. The notable focus on marine reserves means that commercial, customary and recreational fishers are going to be the most affected. We believe the process should reflect that more fairly.”

Mr Symmans also said that the industry is very committed to protecting bio-diversity and that was why it had initiated the BPA (benthic protection areas) closures last year, which equate to a third of New Zealand’s EEZ.

“New Zealand seafood is harvested in an environmentally sound way, as required under existing legislation, and is the fifth biggest export earner for New Zealand’s economy. Its reputation for well-managed, sustainable seafood contributes to the premium prices that New Zealand seafood can expect overseas,” Mr Symmans said.

ENDS

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