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Hoki Fishery Certification Misleads Consumers

Hoki Fishery Certification Misleads Consumers - Condemned By NZ Environment Organisations

The New Zealand hoki fishery is environmentally destructive and should not have been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) says ECO, New Zealand's organisation of 65 organisations with a concern for the environment.

"The New Zealand hoki fishery drowns over 1000 fur seals each year, over 1000 seabirds of which 60% are albatross, die from the fishing," says Cath Wallace marine coordinator for ECO. "A multitude of animals are crushed by trawl nets when these scrape across the bottom.

"Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of hoki are extracted from the fishery each year with no environmental assessment of the impact of this extraction from the ecosystem or of trawling on the marine ecosystem. Few of the Fisheries Act environmental considerations are actually applied, and fisheries management proceeds in a state of considerable ignorance of environmental effects."

"There is a high risk (58-69%) that the Eastern hoki stock will collapse below 20% of the original unfished stock in each of the years to 2004 covered by the latest stock assessment*. In fact it is more likely than not, to collapse.

"The legal target for this fishery is that stocks should be 33-35% of the unfished stock. When fish stocks drop below 20% of the unfished biomass they are commonly regarded as being at considerable risk. The stock risks collapse. There has been virtually no attempt to manage other impacts on the wider environment."

"The announcement that the hoki fishery is to be certified is a serious blow to the integrity of the MSC certification scheme. The MSC seems to have been desperate to get a portfolio of certified fish so that the scheme can get underway.

"With this certification, the MSC is sending a message that it will tolerate high levels of environmental damage and animal deaths. This is a disappointing loss of an opportunity to send reliable messages to consumers. Consumers will be offended by the MSC trying to give a green tick to a fishery with major environmental and animal welfare problems."

"Many of the problems we have identified were also noted in the certification report itself but the report then suggests that these are minor issues. We think that people worried about the environment and those worried about animal welfare will feel revolted at this attempt at greenwash in the face of the facts.

"ECO calls on the MSC to recognise that the assessment report's conclusions are not consistent with the facts and that this certification should be withdrawn.'.

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