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$6m research under-spend puts fish stocks at risk

Phil Heatley MP
National Party Fisheries Spokesman

27 February 2006

$6m research under-spend puts fish stocks at risk

The Ministry of Fisheries has under-spent its research budget, putting valuable fish stocks at risk, says National’s Fisheries spokesman, Phil Heatley.

He is commenting following the Primary Production Select Committee’s financial review of the Ministry of Fisheries last week, which revealed that final research expenditure in the year 2004/05 was $6.1 million under the $21 million budget.

$4.7 million of the under-spend was in fisheries research and $1.4 million in biodiversity research.

“If the Ministry of Fisheries collects the money to do the research, and Parliament tells them to do the research, we expect them to do the research.

“Is it any wonder we see massive cuts in the hoki quota and 12 stretches of coastline closed to families wanting to go shellfish collecting, when the Ministry is not doing the research to keep ahead of depletion problems?”

Mr Heatley says news of the under-spend comes after a Controller and Auditor-General 2005 report recommended that the Ministry of Fisheries provide:

- Consistent, up-to-date and complete information on the sustainability of fish stocks.

- An assessment of the risk to the stock if current fishing and catch levels are maintained.

“Has the Ministry of Fisheries entirely ignored the recommendations of the Auditor-General?” says Mr Heatley.

ENDS

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