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Hoki should lose "sustainable" tag

16 May 2006 - Wellington

Hoki should lose "sustainable" tag

The New Zealand hoki fishery should lose its Marine Stewardship Council certification as a sustainable fishery, Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell says.

Forest & Bird announced today that it will appeal the London-based fisheries monitoring authority's decision to allow the hoki fishery to maintain its certification as sustainable.

Hoki was ranked 11th worst fishery in Forest & Bird's 2005/06 Best Fish Guide, in which hoki is placed in the red/worst choice category.

The allowable hoki catch has declined substantially since the fishery received certification in 2001, as hoki stocks have fallen, Kevin Hackwell says.

In 2001, the allowable catch was 250,000 tonnes, which was reduced to 220,000 tonnes in 2002. In 2003 the industry had a limit of 180,000 tonnes but could only catch 150,000 tonnes; and in 2004 the catch limit was further reduced to 100,000 tonnes.

"Despite catch limit reductions, hoki stocks are still in decline and by-catch is still a serious problem. This fishery should not be marketed to overseas customers as 'sustainable,'" Kevin Hackwell says.

Hundreds of NZ fur seals, albatrosses and petrels are drowned in the hoki fishery each year, including several globally threatened species such as black-browed and Buller's albatrosses and white-chinned petrel.

Non-target fish species by-catch is also a problem, with species being caught including hake, ling, silver warehou, shovelnose dogfish, deal shark, Baxter's dogfish and basking sharks.

Bottom trawling methods used by the hoki fishery bulldoze the sea floor, destroying soft corals, sponges and other bottom-dwelling marine life. Increasing use of double linked nets with a heavy roller in between has made the impact on fragile deepwater habitats even worse, Kevin Hackwell says.

Best Fish Guide: http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/bestfishguide/index


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