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Labour seeks co-operation in fisheries

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Labour in Government will establish a National Fisheries Advisory Council to bring partnership and co-operation to management of New Zealand's fisheries, says Labour fisheries spokesperson Jim Sutton.

"The council would include people from the key interest groups - commercial, recreational, environmental and Mäori," says Mr Sutton, who released Labour's fisheries policy today.

"The 1996 Fisheries Act provided for a council and a select committee has recommended it, but National has done nothing. Instead we've seen a steady deterioration of the relationship between government and industry, marked by endless litigation and a series of botched attempts to patch things up.

"Consultants and lawyers have been the chief beneficiaries of the fishing industry under National."

Mr Sutton says Labour will develop a more balanced fisheries policy process, where recreational and customary interests are not continually overwhelmed by well-resourced industry lobbying. A Labour Government will help fund proper consultation to ensure this.

"Labour does not share National's aim of devolving fisheries management of fisheries to the industry as fast as possible. A Labour Government will never abandon its responsibility for the overall management of fisheries. We aim for partnership, not devolution.

"Some improvements to the Quota Management System will be made. Administration of the QMS will be simplified and the compliance and penalty regime will be made fairer. Labour will ensure that the policing of poaching and black market activity will be the government's responsibility, as the industry rightly insists."

Mr Sutton says Labour will aim to negotiate fair compensation for commercial catching rights that are reduced to provide 20% of new quota to Mäori, as required by the Treaty Settlement.

"Recreational fishers can rest assured that under Labour they will not be brought into the quota system and will not need a licence to fish in the sea."

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