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Banning Trout Sales Needlessly Risks Exports: Feds

The Government is risking retaliatory action against New Zealand's exports if it allows the Conservation (Protection of Trout as a Non-commercial Species) Amendment Bill to proceed this evening.

Alistair Polson, President of Federated Farmers, commented that while the Bill may be good politics, it was a needless risk to the livelihoods of New Zealand exporters. It risks New Zealand jobs and growth without any benefit.

"The risk of retaliatory action is very real. Already Canada is reported to have approached the World Trade Organisation for authority to retaliate against other Australian exports since Australia placed restrictions on the importation of Canadian salmon. We can expect similar action against our own exports," said Mr Polson.

"If Parliament really wants to protect trout stocks, it should increase the funding for anti-poaching activities, rather than using a risky, trade-distorting law that will damage New Zealand's trade position."

"Members of Parliament need to keep in mind that 17.7%, almost one in five, of all New Zealand workers are on farms or in the agricultural processing sector. Many more are involved in other export sectors."

Papers obtained by Federated Farmers under the Official Information Act show that officials have warned of the international trade implications, both now and in the future. Trade officials have clearly stated that the new restriction would be challenged by major exporting countries because it could set a precedent, encouraging other countries to adopt similar restrictive measures.

"New Zealand's serious current account deficit has reinforced the importance of an healthy export sector. Passage of this Bill will open New Zealand's trade up to serious risks. It must not proceed."

The Bill prohibits the commercial sale of trout for consumption. The reason given is to ensure that trout is maintained as a recreation-only species. However, other "recreational" species such as salmon, duck, goat meat, venison may be sold legally yet there is no evidence that the recreational aspects of salmon fishing, or deer and duck hunting has been undermined.

ENDS

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