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Industry purchase of fisheries research

Media Statement 9 March 2000

Industry purchase of fisheries research

The Government is postponing a decision on whether the fishing industry can directly purchase fisheries research, Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson said today.

Mr Hodgson said plans for direct purchasing developed by the previous National Government were being shelved for one year.

"Direct purchasing carries a fundamental risk," Mr Hodgson said. "Put simply, those who purchase research have an ability to influence it. The incentives must be very carefully managed, no matter how honest or professional the various players may be."

Fisheries research is presently purchased by the Ministry of Fisheries. In consultation with fisheries stakeholders, the ministry determines what research is to be done and where. The cost of most research is recovered from the industry. Direct purchasing would enable the industry to purchase research instead of the Ministry of Fisheries.

"There may be a case for direct purchase in the future in some selected fisheries," Mr Hodgson said. "One example is enhanced shell fisheries where Maori, environmental and recreational stakeholders are woven into a functional, mature management structure. Another is selected deep water fisheries where quota holders have a demonstrated record of sustainable management and where bycatch and other ecological concerns are well understood or well represented in the management structure.

"The need for delay follows from some muddled thinking by the previous Minister of Fisheries. For some reason he thought direct purchase of research could begin in the absence of fisheries plans, which will involve all stakeholders in the development of fishery management strategies.

"At the same time, both the Auditor-General and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment are expressing concern about the adequacy of fisheries research. And we do not yet have any defined rights for recreational fishing.

"Public policy must proceed in a logical sequence and at a logical pace."

ENDS

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