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Amendment Bill Retains Environmental Protections

The Fisheries Amendment Bill passed into law today is welcome news to Kiwi fishers and environmental groups who are committed to restored abundance of our fisheries.

“Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker is to be thanked for passing legislation that enables monitoring cameras aboard commercial fishing vessels and makes them land their catch instead of being able to dump unwanted fish at sea,” said LegaSea spokesperson Scott Macindoe.

“Our supporters often tell us they’ve seen dead fish floating in the ocean that have been dumped by commercial fishers who have exceeded their quota or caught a species of fish they didn't want or couldn’t sell. All New Zealanders benefit from having more fish in the water and a vibrant marine environment, and this legislation will make a difference.”

Macindoe said the groups were also grateful to the Minister for setting aside hotly contested elements of the Amendment Bill that threatened the rebuild of our overexploited fisheries including popular fish species such as blue cod, crayfish and snapper.

Officials and commercial fishing lobbyists almost succeeded in having pre-set decision rules introduced - a pre-set formula using industry-supplied data that would be used by officials to adjust annual harvest limits. It was strongly opposed by more than 6,000 people and groups.

Macindoe said: “The pre-set decision rules promoted by officials and commercial interests had the potential to remove both public input to the decision making process and also take away the opportunity for Ministers to use their discretion to make well informed decisions that contribute to restored abundance. The result would always have been more commercial catch at the expense of restored abundance.”

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“We’re grateful for the Minister pulling the controversial proposals and prioritising the environment. Minister Parker is being consistent with his commitment to be cautious and act in the public interest.”

New Zealand Sport Fishing Council President Ian Steele said: “It’s pleasing the Minister has listened to our concerns and is seeking to look after all New Zealanders. The prudent thing to do was to focus on getting cameras on boats, and developing an updated monitoring and enforcement regime. Common sense has prevailed.

“Fishing provides a vital source of food for all New Zealanders so it was unacceptable to try to reduce sustainability measures that would threaten marine abundance. It’s fundamental that Kiwis have access to fresh fish given the increasing cost of food that is crippling family budgets.”

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