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Port Focus Debut Sees A Thunderstorm Of Opinions

First issue of Port Focus Aotearoa for 2004 creates a thunderstorm of opinions!

The first issue of Port Focus Aotearoa for 2004 creates a thunderstorm of opinions!- the editorial, 'The Bad Taste Of Scampi Saga Must Be Removed Now", is reproduced at the end of the thunderstorm of reader response. – Liam Butler

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Dear Editor

I don't agree at all with your editorial content at all.

The Select Committee found that there was no corruption in the scampi issues. The Select Committee did find that the Ministry had not acted appropriately and that redress was appropriate from the Ministry to some industry parties. Therefore your statement in your editorial that: "major fishing companies.....admit guilt....of the corruption" is baseless in fact.

The State Services Commission enquiry on whether or not there was any corruption in the Ministry's handling of scampi fishery is still underway and no determination has yet been made.

The information that has been made publicly available that Winston Peters ate at Kermadec restaurant is hardly supportive of any improper dealings - one may consider that he acted imprudently but that's about all. The Speaker's review of the Select Committee's enquiry into scampi effectively came to this conclusion.

Your editorial will only continue to pour petrol onto the embers of the fire.......we need a positive way forward, not continued divisiveness.

We need the Government to understand this and to do all they can to assist immediately. They could act to reduce the exchange rate or to lower NZ interest rates - but it is doubtful that they will. However they could redirect the Deemed Value payments to fund fisheries management and admin costs, and cover the costs of fisheries enforcement from the consolidated fund rather than from levies paid by quota owners as is currently the case. They should also be taken to task for continuing to increase their expenditure on research and fisheries administration costs and called to task to review these costs with a view of seeking significant savings.

George Clement
Orange Roughy Management Co Ltd
Chief Executive
P O Box 1460
Nelson

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Dear Editor

We need to be careful when throwing about generic terminology. In my opinion the "seafood industry" is not the same as the "fishing industry". The "seafood industry" includes aquaculture, training (SITO), the Federation, the Guild, processors, retailers and exporters, company staff, TOKM and many Iwi as well as ITQ owners.

Many of these are not in the fishing industry that is under the spotlight in your editorial. In 2001 the New Zealand Aquaculture Council presented its vision for aquaculture in 2020. We embraced the aquaculture reforms so that we could progress and work in harmony with the other rights holders and users of the coastal marine area. We have been let down by the Government, MFish, other officials and through our own internal industry debates.

Graeme Coates
Executive Officer
New Zealand Marine Farming Association

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Dear Editor

Fisheries is a hotbed of errors and fertile for any politician wanting to point score. But this doesn't improve is the industry's image or the industry's management. What should happen is some big picture items should be dealt with and ticked off, fixing the boundaries in law and leaving the fishers to fish. Recreational fishing rights, having all fisheries in the QMS, finalizing the aquaculture reforms is to name but a few.

All these issues in limbo only provide uncertainty and the opportunity for cock-ups and thuggery."

Phil Heatley,
MP for Whangarei,
National Spokesperson for Fisheries

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Dear Editor

It's clear to me the fishing industry needs leadership and statesmanship to emerge to take the industry forward - to impose upon itself - standards and codes of practice in order to manage itself with oversight from a government department.

Should the industry ignore their problems (and they are their problems) there is little doubt the fishing industry will be smothered with red tape imposed by central government.

The public increasingly does not trust business. The implications of that for the fishing industry are huge. The fishing industry has a very clear choice to make and it must make it very soon."

Gerry Eckhoff MP
Fisheries Spokesman for ACT New Zealand

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Free copies of the first and future issues of Port Focus can be gained by contacting Liam@PortFocus.co.nz with your name, address and number of issues you would like.

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Port Focus Editorial

Bad Taste Of Scampi Saga Must Be Removed Now

Wednesday, 18th February, 2004

Gerrard Eckhoff, ACT MP and member of the Primary Production Select Committee described this week the scampi inquiry as "one of the most notorious inquires held by a select committee. Allegations of improper practice, sex for questions, free fish meals, are unusual to say the least, especially when leveled at the committee holding the inquiry. "

Few would want to rebut Eckhoff's assertion that the mess the Scampi inquiry has caused is unusual. Even the most ardent agnostic would thank God that such a disgraceful set of affairs is indeed unusual in NZ. New Zealand's little economy simply can not suffer the economic backlash that such allegations of corruption and the immeasurable harm such violent and widespread industry infighting causes the reputation of not only the fishery sector but the entire NZ economy.

Overseas industry spectators have over the past months have looked aghast as the NZ fishing industry and politicians have become their own worst enemies bickering like a set of twits amongst themselves.

The time has come for the seafood industry leaders to take charge of their own industry again. It is not the time for the NZ seafood industry to bemoan that politicians have stuck their hands in the fish pie and made a mess.

The simple fact is that the NZ fishing industry needs to be its own watch dog. Self regulation through ethical practices and honest corporate governance is the best way to show politicians that they are capable of looking after our their industry. However when industry infighting, and its precursor-greed, is the dominant force in our industry it is little wonder that NZ politicians have been forced to intervene and try and sort out the mess we they created.

New Zealanders are proud of our can do- co operative and positive attitude. NZ Fisheries have shown none of that skill set over the last two years. Indeed the industry has acted in a despicable manner. The NZ fisheries sector has become like a particularly tortured soap opera.

Industry leaders have been putting knives in the backs of their long term business partners giving into greed to and seeking short term profits at the cost of ultimately more profitable but admittedly harder work of securing long term productive working relationships.

It is time for the major fishing companies to stand up and admit guilt of not keeping their decks clean of the corruption and infighting that has now sadly perforated our industry like a cancer.

By cutting out the cancer of infighting the power of politicians will diminish. Seafic, TOKM and the Fishing Industry Guild must now stand up and act. As editor of PortFocus.co.nz

I challenge them to work hard, crack some heads together, bruise some of the more colorful, massive fishing industry egos and, in short, do what ever it takes to bring back some respectability to our fishing industry.

It is absolutely pointless moaning about the state of the NZ fishing industry if it is non existent. If you think that is an alarmist comment, contact any of the workers of the 'Ocean Ranger', one of the largest fishing vessels to grace NZ waters, which is now tragically tied up indefinitely at Port Nelson because it is uneconomic to send it to sea.

Ends

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Free copies of the first and future issues of Port Focus can be gained by contacting Liam@PortFocus.co.nz with your name, address and number of issues you would like.

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