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Catch reductions not enough to save fisheries

Catch reductions not enough to save fisheries

New catch limits announced by Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton today do not go far enough to ensure New Zealand’s fisheries are sustainable, Forest & Bird says.

Forest & Bird Conservation Advocate Kirstie Knowles says reductions in catch limits for some fisheries due to concerns about their sustainability were welcome – but need to go further to be effective in rebuilding fish stocks.

In particular Forest & Bird is concerned that the Minister’s decision to reduce the hoki quota by only 10% fails to meet the Marine Stewardship Council’s requirements for sustainable fisheries.

The hoki fishery recently only just passed recertification as sustainable by the council ‘by the skin of its teeth’due to environmental concerns. An independent panel of international fisheries experts commented that this decision was ‘disappointing’and that a holistic view would not support recertification.

“The catch limits announced today do not go far enough to ensure that this fishery recovers enough to ensure that it is sustainable,” Kirstie Knowles says.

Certification by the Marine Stewardship Council requires the depleted hoki stocks off the West Coast of the South Island to be recovered to target levels within five years. A report by the Ministry of Fisheries concludes that this would only be possible by closing the western stock to all fishing.

“The Minister’s decision to set a western quota of 25,000 tones will not ensure recovery of the stock and cannot be regarded as sustainable fisheries management,” Kirstie Knowles says.

“The catch in the New Zealand hoki fishery has fallen dramatically from 250,000 tonnes in 2001 to 90,000 now, reflecting the fact that stocks have been declining rapidly in that time. Tougher catch limits are needed if we are to stop this decline and prevent total collapse of the fishery.”

The new catch limits also fail to sufficiently recognise the damage the hoki fishery causes by damaging the seabed and seafloor life by bottom trawling, and the deaths of hundreds of seabirds and marine mammals each year through by-catch in the fishery, Kirstie Knowles says.

“We encourage any action by the Government to work towards more sustainable fisheries, but stronger action is required if we are really going to achieve that aim, so that our fisheries can be sustainably managed into the future.”


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