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Minister can't ignore fisheries' sustainability

13 November 2007

Minister can't ignore fisheries' sustainability

Forest & Bird stands by its Best Fish Guide in the face of criticism by Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton.

The Minister described the Best Fish Guide, launched today, as simplistic, but Forest & Bird says the guide provides vital information to consumers about the environmental sustainability of the fish they buy.

Forest & Bird Conservation Advocate Kirstie Knowles says the guide takes into account six sustainability criteria for each fishery - the health and level of fish stocks, by-catch of other marine life, fishing methods and the harm they cause to the marine environment, biology and vulnerability of the fish species, adequacy of research on the fishery and how well it is managed.

The Best Fish Guide analysis is based on information published by the Ministry of Fisheries and a full copy of the assessments, including the methodology used, is available on Forest & Bird's website (http://www.forestandbirdorg.nz/bestfishguide/index.asp).

"The criteria and methodology used to develop the Best Fish Guide is robust, transparent, internationally peer-reviewed and far from simplistic. We are confident that the guide provides the best available information for New Zealand consumers."

Kirstie Knowles says Forest & Bird does not share the minister's confidence that New Zealanders can be confident that any New Zealand-caught fish is sustainable.

"Unfortunately fisheries management in New Zealand is not as good as the public is often told by the fishing industry and the government. The Best Fish Guide will help customers demand that the fish they buy is environmentally sustainable so that we can see genuine improvements in the sustainability of our fisheries."

"The facts on New Zealand's fisheries speak for themselves."

Of 75 commercial fisheries in NZ: 75 have no management plan 26 are over-fished or there has been a substantial decline in stocks 51 cause habitat damage 42 kill significant numbers of seabirds 45 kill a significant number of marine mammals 64 catch too much non-target fish 58 cause adverse ecological effects 44 have never had a stock assessment 13 have had a full stock assessment in the last 10 years (some showed that little was known about the state of the stocks) 8 have had quantitative stock assessments which are more than 10 years old 18 have had only a partial stock assessment in the last 10 years

ENDS

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