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Opposition To Sale Of BIL Fish Quota

30 April, 2000 NEWS RELEASE

OPPOSITION TO SALE OF BRIERLEY’S FISH QUOTA TO OVERSEAS INTERESTS REC FISHERS SEEK GOVT INTERVENTION

The Recreational Fishing Council is seeking Government action to ensure that the 50 percent of shareholding held by Brierley Investments Ltd in Sealord Group and its fish quota holding company Te Ika Paewai Ltd remains in New Zealand ownership.

The immediate past president and fisheries policy adviser to the council Bob Burstall, said today that Sealord Group as the largest quota holder was a positive influence in the sustainable management of the New Zealand fishery.

“The quota allocation to fishing companies by the public through the Government underpins the sustainable management system established for our fishery. Companies hold the quota that to a large extent supports their capital structures as a gift from the public in return for their operating under a Government controlled sustainable management system established under New Zealand law.

“The public did not allocate these quotas for the advantage of foreign owned companies many of which are based in countries that subsidise their fishing fleets. Many also impose trade barriers and high tariffs against New Zealand fish exporters. Nor, in many cases, do foreign controlled fishing companies support the sustainable harvesting and management philosophies practised in New Zealand.

“We believe it would be a retrograde step contrary to the national interest and the established fisheries management system to introduce foreign ownership into the industry at this time. Fisheries stocks world wide are under intense pressure from over fishing. Marine resources are often plundered into near extinction for the sake of balance sheet solvency.

“It is our view that should a foreign company sneak into the quota system through purchase of these Brierley held shares there will be a flow-on effect with other foreign companies citing this as a precedent to acquire access to quota.

“We are mindful of the impact Government intervention in free market financial transactions can have. Nevertheless in this case it is our view that companies do not have an unfettered right to dispose of public assets in the form of the fish quotas as though only business interest is involved.

“Our fishery is not an unlimited resource. It cannot be compared to our forests, or our rural pastures. You can’t plant new fish by clearing land. Once fish quota is sold overseas it will not be returned.

“The sale to overseas interests of access to our fishery through the quota system may well be likened to the sale of a part of our heritage.

“We have no problem with a sale of the Brierley interest in Sealords to a New Zealand owned company or companies. But we are certainly strongly opposed to any overseas controlled company having the benefit of New Zealand quota.

“We urge the Government to instruct the Overseas Investment Commission to decline any application for approval to sell these holdings to companies controlled by overseas interests.

“The council also calls on like minded New Zealanders to make clear their views on this issue to the Government.”

For further information:

The New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council (Inc)
Bob Burstall, Fisheries Policy Adviser
Tel: (09) 528-0263 or 025-949-885

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