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Government caught by snag in tuna quota issue

Phil Heatley MP National Party Fisheries Spokesman

08 August 2004

Government caught by snag in tuna quota issue

The Government's suffered an embarrassing defeat in its efforts to put tuna and mussel spat into the Quota Management System, says National Party Fisheries spokesman Phil Heatley.

He's commenting after Government legislation paving the way for introduction of a number of species into New Zealand's QMS was defeated at the Primary Production select committee this week, a rare outcome in any Parliament.

"Labour's loss will be the fishing industry's gain.

"If this legislation had been passed, New Zealand boats would've faced unfair restrictions compared to fleets from other countries.

"It would have applied not only in our Exclusive Economic Zone, but also on the high seas or in the waters of other nations.

"As the New Zealand Government tried to flex its muscle over this fishery, many of our largest tuna fishing companies were already making plans to sail under other nations' flags to avoid the new and unnecessary restrictions.

"Tuna are in New Zealand waters for a relatively short time and our fishers currently catch only a fraction of the Pacific region's total haul. Had Labour's plan been accepted, it promised to put our boats at a distinct disadvantage."

Meanwhile, Labour was the only political party that backed a move to put mussel spat into the QMS. That too was defeated at the select committee.

"It's absurd trying to cap the amount of spat collected through the QMS. If it washes up on the beach - and most of it does - it dies," says Mr Heatley.

Ends

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