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Fishing industry challenged to ‘pull up its stocks

Fishing industry challenged to ‘pull up its stocks’

Consumers will now have the power to choose fish from fisheries that do less harm to the environment. Forest and Bird today launched the ‘Best Fish Guide’, the first guide to rank the ecological sustainability of New Zealand's 62 commercial marine fisheries.

“The top 12 ranking species include pilchard, blue moki, tarakihi and trevally, however, even these better fisheries still have problems,” Forest and Bird’s Conservation Manager Kevin Hackwell said.

“The worst 12 include orange roughy - which ranks worst of all - as well as hoki, oreos, rig and snapper. These are fisheries that need quota reductions and which need to improve their fishing techniques to do less environmental harm,” he said.

“The industry has a real challenge ahead of it. So far the only fish that is being sustainably harvested with a minimum of damage to the marine environment is the chocolate fish. We hope the fishing industry pulls up its stocks so we can lift the rankings next year,” he said.

"Consumers increasingly demand that their food be sustainability produced. But until now have had no way of knowing which fish are sustainably caught,” he said.

To help consumers make better choices about seafood, Forest and Bird has brought together a huge amount of information and ranked fisheries in three colour categories:

Green – relatively well managed, with low habitat damage and/or bycatch Amber – concerns about the status of stocks, fishing methods, habitat damage, management, bycatch or lack of knowledge Red – fishery has a lot of problems because it is over-fished, poorly managed, has high bycatch, damages marine habitats, and/or there is a lack of knowledge.

"New Zealand consumers may be surprised to find out that no NZ fishery ranked green. We are not able to show that any New Zealand fishery is well managed, with low habitat damage or bycatch and has good information on the status of stocks,” Mr Hackwell said.

Around half the fisheries ranked amber, meaning that there are concerns about these fisheries, or there is simply no information on which to make a robust assessment. The remainder ranked in the red. Around half of New Zealand’s fisheries are clearly not sustainable because they are overfished, poorly managed, have high bycatch, damage marine habitats and/or have poor information about the state of the fishery.

“The findings of our assessment contradicts claims by the Ministry of Fisheries and the fishing industry that New Zealand’s fisheries are sustainable and well managed,” Mr Hackwell said.

“Overseas consumers will be shocked to find out that the NZ hoki and orange roughy they buy are from fisheries that are close to collapsing, kill large numbers of marine mammals and seabirds and bulldoze fragile deepwater coral habitats on seamounts,” he said.

Notes:

The criteria used to rank the fisheries are:

status and sustainability of catches; fishing method; habitat damage; biology and risk of over-fishing; management and research; management plans; stock assessment information; and protected or threatened species bycatch such as seabirds or marine mammals. From the assessments of the 62 fisheries

16 are over-fished or there has been a substantial decline in stocks 50 cause habitat damage 23 kill significant numbers of seabirds 28 kill a significant number of marine mammals 56 catch too much non-target fish 60 cause adverse ecological effects

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