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Scampi quota allocation delayed

Scampi quota allocation delayed

Minister of Fisheries Pete Hodgson has decided to put forward by one year the intended date for introducing scampi to the fisheries Quota Management System.

Mr Hodgson said today he had decided in principle to introduce scampi to the Quota Management System (QMS) on 1 October 2004, pending the outcome of the Primary Production Committee inquiry into the issue. This supersedes Mr Hodgson's decision in principle in June this year to introduce scampi to the QMS on 1 October 2003.

"My decision gives the select committee time to proceed with its inquiry," Mr Hodgson said. "I have waited until the terms of reference were clear before making this decision because I was concerned that a poorly defined inquiry might produce indefinite delays. However I think the committee has produced useful terms of reference and my hope is that is that it will produce a clear report."

Mr Hodgson directed in June that his initial decision in principle to bring scampi into the QMS should not be gazetted while inquiries were under way into the management of the fishery. He said today that his revised decision would not need to be gazetted for about a year.

Allegations of corruption relating to the scampi fishery have been examined by the Serious Fraud Office and an independent barrister appointed by the Solicitor-General. Both found they did not merit further investigation. The State Services Commissioner, while agreeing that the allegations are without foundation, has commissioned a further independent investigation on the basis that a detailed public response to the allegations is required. The Ministry of Fisheries is reviewing its records of the administration of the scampi fishery, including the key period of the late 1980s and early 1990s, and has undertaken to cooperate fully with the select committee inquiry. "It is clear that the need to manage scampi sustainably will best be met by putting it into the QMS," Mr Hodgson said. "None of the questions raised about allocation of quota changes that, which is why I have confirmed my decision in principle to introduce the species to the QMS. However it is equally clear that the integrity of the process will be enhanced if I delay introduction by a further year."

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