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Scampi inquiry delivers thorough report

Tuesday, 02 December 2003 Media Statement

Scampi inquiry delivers thorough report

The Primary Production Committee's report on its scampi fishery inquiry is commendably thorough and its recommendations are usefully clear and specific, says Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson.

"The committee, like the Courts, has severely criticised the former Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries' administration of the scampi fishery in the late 1980s and early 1990s," Mr Hodgson said. "It has also criticised the Ministry for failing to rectify past errors and injustices since that time.

"The committee's critique is thorough and the recommendations flowing from it are unusually and helpfully specific. Four call specifically for action from the Ministry, which will respond. Two call for action from the Government, namely:
- the introduction of scampi to the Quota Management System from 1 October 2004, using catch history as the basis of quota allocation, and
- ex gratia payments to six named fishers identified by the committee as having a justified grievance with the treatment they received from the Ministry.

"I have already made a decision in principle to introduce scampi to the Quota Management System in 2004. I can confirm today my intention to proceed with that introduction, as recommended, on the basis of catch history. The Government will consider the recommended ex gratia payments carefully and respond in due course.

"While the Ministry must take lessons where necessary from the criticisms in the report, it is very important to recognise that the crucial allegations of corruption that sparked the inquiry have been completely dismissed.

"The committee found no evidence that Ministry investigations into Simunovich Fisheries were stopped deliberately to protect the company. Allegations of this nature were critical to the committee's decision to launch its inquiry. In fact those alleging corruption before the inquiry began did not repeat those claims to the committee or attempt to substantiate them. The committee is unimpressed by that and so am I.

"I share the committee's desire to see an end to the chronic disputes that have plagued the scampi fishery and I am pleased that the introduction of the species to the Quota Management System can now proceed. That will help ensure this valuable fishery is managed efficiently and sustainably."

ENDS

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