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Changing ocean temperatures a threat to NZ fishing

13 July 2005

Changing ocean temperatures a threat to NZ fishing

Changing ocean temperatures are a genuine threat to New Zealand's fishing industry, Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope said today.

He described National's continued call to scrap New Zealand's involvement in the Kyoto Protocol as ill-informed and completely short sighted.

Mr Benson-Pope said scientists have revealed a deep warming of the Tasman Sea since 1996, possibly as a result of El Nino weather patterns. This warming has coincided with a drop-off in Hoki numbers.

"Our understanding of complex ocean systems is still very limited but this highlights the threat ocean temperature change presents," said Mr Benson-Pope. "I have huge concerns for the sustainability of deepwater species threatened by changes in ocean temperature.

"Ignoring the threat of global warming now would be a disaster for future generations of New Zealanders, including the fishing industry.

"Dr Brash can't keep burying his head in the sand on climate change. Even Dr Brash's role-model George Bush has acknowledged global warming is a threat to the planet."

Mr Benson-Pope pointed to the ability of businesses whose competitiveness would be at risk from the carbon tax to negotiate exemptions, and to the pilot grants scheme to help energy intensive industries, including the fishing industry, to adjust.

"I understand that discussions have already occurred with the fishing industry," said Mr Benson-Pope. "Dr Brash should stop his scaremongering that fishing industry jobs would be exported elsewhere.

"It is clear that National's approach of doing nothing, really isn't an option at all. This issue requires leadership and instead Dr Brash proposes running up the white flag of surrender."

ENDS

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