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Minister delivers ultimatum to Hoki industry

09 September, 2004

Minister delivers ultimatum to Hoki industry

Hoki fishers must shape up or expect massive cuts to the amount of the important fishing resource they will be allowed to fish, Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope said today.

Mr Benson-Pope will shortly set the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of Hoki for the coming fishing year and told representatives of the industry body the Hoki Management Company, whom he had summoned to a showdown in the Beehive, that their fate was in their own hands.

Responding to reports that some Hoki fishers had ignored an industry agreement and were fishing in no-go Hoki spawning grounds, Mr Benson-Pope said he was concerned about the current state of the fishery.

Ministry of Fisheries (MFish) satellite tracking technology had confirmed a number of vessels had apparently breeched the no-go area, and were fishing areas identified as containing high levels of juvenile fish. Research on the mortality level of juvenile Hoki is due to be completed next year. However, Mr Benson-Pope has told the industry to take action now.

"I am anxious to see that industry acts responsibly and collectively to manage all potential risks given the current state of the fishery,” he said. "I have a statutory obligation to protect the sustainability of the species and that will be paramount in the decisions I make. The industry must shape up or accept that consequences are inevitable.”

Mr Benson-Pope has asked all quota owners to sign up to an industry code of practice. He says nothing short of all Hoki quota holders signing up to the industry agreement and also agreeing that MFish vessel tracking data can be passed on to the Hoki Management Company would satisfy him.

"I will take into account the extent to which industry can deliver when making my final decision on the catch level for Hoki this year,” he said. "If my expectations are not met, I will have no alternative but to take further steps to ensure responsible behaviour."

ENDS

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