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Te Ohu Kai Moana Urges Minister To Act Quickly

MEDIA RELEASE
18 October 2001

Te Ohu Kai Moana Urges Minister To Act Quickly

The Minister of Fisheries, Pete Hodgson, must act quickly to ensure the country’s scampi fishery is not plundered in the absence of a legal regulatory and monitoring regime, the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission (Te Ohu Kai Moana) said today.

The chief executive of Te Ohu Kai Moana, Robin Hapi, said the recent Court of Appeal decision meant scampi was now an “Olympic” fishery and is in jeopardy of being over-fished as some companies move in to take advantage of a legal free-for-all.

“The Appeal Court decision turned the scampi fishery into a gold rush. Te Ohu Kai Moana believes the scampi fishery is under threat of significant over-fishing. We hope that all involved will deal with this issue responsibly and expeditiously. The Ministry must act quickly to ensure there is no long-term irreparable harm done through some fishing companies making a quick buck in the absence of an effective regulatory system,” he said.

“We understand that from the moment the Court of Appeal issued the decision, permit holders were placing additional vessels into the scampi fishing areas. Te Ohu Kai Moana’s fear is that the extra pressure placed on the scampi fishery may mean the current catch limits are exceeded. We would urge the introduction of intensified catch monitoring arrangements to avoid damage to the scampi stocks before the species is introduced into the Quota Management System.”

Te Ohu Kai Moana also notes that the reporting of catch is extremely competitive and areas one, two, four and 6A are only reported on a monthly basis.

While errors made in past span quite a number of years and were unnecessarily perpetuated, Te Ohu Kai Moana acknowledges that the fisheries regulations are an extremely complex set of rules and regulations. However, in order to now protect the cornerstone of New Zealand’s fisheries management – sustainability – moves must be made to protect the scampi fishery.

Mr Hapi said Te Ohu Kai Moana believed there were two important issues at stake. “The first is the immediate response to what is currently happening in the fishery with companies that currently have permits putting in additional vessels, and the other is how to address allocation issues arising from the court decision in favour of those who have no current permit.”

He said Te Ohu Kai Moana agrees with the Minister that ultimately the solution lies in the introduction of more species, such as scampi, into the QMS. “Te Ohu Kai Moana looks forward to receiving 20 percent of this quota, as required by law through the now nine-year-old Maori Commercial Fisheries Settlement,” Mr Hapi added.

For more information, contact Te Ohu Kai Moana Communications Manager
Glenn Hema Inwood 021 498 010

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