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Letter To Pete Hodgson From Greens

30 March 2000

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Fisheries
Parliament
WELLINGTON

Dear Pete

This week's seizure of two New Zealand fishing boats for allegedly breaching their permits while fishing for patagonian toothfish in Antarctic waters raises the serious issue of New Zealand's role and responsibility in preserving threatened species.

I'm sure you will have received advice, as we have, that the patagonian toothfish has been severely overfished, to the point where scientists predict it will be commercially extinct within two years.

While the allegations that New Zealand fishing vessels may have violated their permits in their fishing for the patagonian toothfish are extremely serious, it is a secondary issue as far as the Green Party is concerned.

We hold grave concerns that any New Zealand vessels are playing any role whatsoever in the ongoing depletion of a threatened species and respectfully request that you consider the government's position in allowing any further catches.

The patagonian toothfish is an extremely valuable fish on the commercial market and efforts to halt the decline in the species' numbers are sure to be met with stiff industry resistance.

However a major supermarket chain in the United States has now refused to stock the fish in recognition of the unsustainability of the fishery and the perilous status of the toothfish.

The Green Party believes an international ban should immediately be imposed on further catches of the patagonian toothfish until there is a plan for its managed recovery. We urge the New Zealand Government to take the international lead in negotiating such a ban and in the meantime to set an example to the rest of the world. If no such leadership is taken we fear the rapid extinction of yet another species.

We ask that you immediately end all permits to catch patagonian toothfish by the New Zealand fishing industry and all New Zealand owned or registered fishing vessels.

Yours sincerely

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP


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