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Forest & Bird loose on facts and use of children

27th September 2006

Forest & Bird loose on facts and use of children

Minister of Fisheries, Jim Anderton said that Forest & Bird (F&B) were both loose on facts and were wrongfully using children by involving them in the presentation of our Save our Sealions petition to a Government MP on the steps of Parliament. He said F&B were wilfully and wrongly spreading the belief that the sealions in Auckland Islands were endangered through the methods of squid fishing around the islands.

"Forest and Bird is, unfortunately, using this as a recruiting issue to highlight itself. I have never liked political point scoring using children because they do not have the experience or knowledge to critically think their way through complex issues like this one. To say that pre-school age children are engaging in the democratic process by doing so is ridiculous.

"The squid fishery is a $150 - $200 million industry for New Zealand and the only way to ensure that no sealions are killed as a consequence of fishing for squid off the Auckland Islands is to stop fishing.

"This is not an option open to me as minister under the Fisheries Act. There are between 12,000 and 15,000 sealions on the Auckland Islands and the best scientific advice available to me is that the maximum of 150 deaths which I allowed for as by-catch in the last season (the final total was actually 110) will not lead to a species decline, or even come anywhere near it.

"I am, however, required to have regard to the outcomes of fishing under endangered species legislation. If I thought for a moment that the past season by-catch limit endangered the sealions, I would not approve it. These are the facts that the children are almost certainly not told by their parents.

"The alternative fishing methods to trawling such as "Jigging" would be more dangerous for the lives of fishermen in the Auckland Islands conditions and I care as much, as least, about the lives of fishermen as I do about the lives of sealions," Jim Anderton said in Christchurch today.

ENDS

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