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Ministry of Fisheries' claims misleading

Ministry of Fisheries' claims misleading

The Ministry of Fisheries (MFish) was today accused of misleading the public by claiming they had good information with which to "advise on the sustainability of 60-70 percent of New Zealand's commercial fisheries".

Forest and Bird's Senior Researcher said that the claim had to be misleading when stocks from only ten of the 62 species have had full stock assessments in the last ten years.

"No New Zealand fishery has a management plan. For over two thirds of the species in the Quota Management System, MFish does not know whether current catch limits are sustainable or not. Their 60-70% claim appears to have been plucked out of thin air. We challenge MFish to justify its assertion," he said.

"I've been to most of the stock assessments plenaries over the last twelve years so I know," he said.

"Of those that have had full assessments, around half are below the maximum sustainable yield biomass and are therefore not sustainable or well managed. Some of these are among our biggest fisheries," he said

"This year, the Government increased the take of squid, citing it as an example of how the Quota Management System (QMS) enabled sensitive management of fish stocks. But last year MFish conceded that it is was impossible to estimate a sustainable yield for squid," he said.

"Every year, thousands of seabirds and hundreds of marine mammals are killed in New Zealand fisheries. Hundreds of square kilometres of seabed are being wrecked by trawl nets every year. Coral forests hundreds of years old are being wiped out. Yet MFish is willing to go on record as saying New Zealand's fisheries are in 'good shape'," he said.

"It's revealing that the Ministry of Fisheries' statement today ignored by-catch and habitat damage from fishing," he said.

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