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Kahawai undervalued by government, says Sanford



Kahawai undervalued by government, says Sanford

The Kahawai case currently underway in the Auckland High Court is about kahawai being a fish species that is undervalued by government, says industry commentators.

“Our emphasis is not trying to stop Kiwis from going fishing if they want to,” says Eric Barratt, chief executive of Sanford Ltd. “It’s about ensuring that we can continue to provide ready access to seafood for everyone – not just those people who choose to go and catch it themselves.”

The Ministry of Fisheries estimates that only 20% of the population goes fishing recreationally and for many of those people that means dropping a line only once or twice a year, Mr Barratt said. “The government is ignoring the far greater majority of New Zealanders – recreational fishers included – who buy their seafood. We want to be able to continue to provide a ready supply of seafood like kahawai to the community so that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy it and the significant health benefits it provides.

“Sanford Limited has made a sizable investment in its Auckland Fish Market complex because it is fully committed to providing the community ready access to quality seafood. Kahawai is a modestly priced, wholesome and popular fish in this market, particularly in smoked form. It hardly seems reasonable that the wider community’s access to buying popular fish like kahawai is being progressively curtailed just to provide for the fishing pleasure of a select group who are fortunate enough to be able to go fishing for themselves.

“Everyone who chooses to go fishing should be able to enjoy a quality catch, which is why we are calling for mechanisms to be put in place to measure and monitor recreational take. The seafood industry’s Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACCs) in the kahawai fishery has steadily declined over the years while the recreational bag limit remains the same, at 20 fish per person per day, and yet there is no system in place to measure how much is being taken.

Under current arrangements, the commercial sector contributes approximately $35 million per year to ensure the fishery is sustainably utilised. The research of fish stocks is entirely funded by the commercial industry with commercial fishing highly regulated, assessed and recorded. There is currently no process to determine how much of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) recreational fishing takes from the sea.

“The commercial sector provides a range of tangible values to society such as providing a steady supply of fish to the community which in turn enhances the overall health benefits to society* that accrue from the regular consumption of seafood,” said Mr Barratt.

“As this country’s fifth largest export earner the seafood industry is a significant contributor to New Zealand’s economy, particularly in regional areas, and employs around 22,000 New Zealanders – and we want to be able to continue to do this. Through effective management of New Zealand’s fisheries and the property rights entrenched in our world-leading Quota Management System (QMS) upheld - we can just get on with it,” said Mr Barratt.


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