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Eating Hoki is Sustainable

8 November 2005

Eating Hoki is Sustainable

Forest and Bird's 'Best Fish Guide' is nonsense and to advise consumers to avoid eating hoki is ridiculous, said Richard Cade today, Hoki Fishery Management Company CEO.

"New Zealand's hoki fishery is New Zealand's only third party assessed fishery. In 2001, New Zealand hoki became the world's first large whitefish stock to achieve Marine Stewardship Council certification (MSC), which certified the fishery as a sustainable resource for the next five years, and it continues to be one of only 14 international fisheries to be certified by the MSC."

"Forest and Bird's 'guide' is obviously based on an in-house assessment that is neither verifiable nor transparent, while the MSC certification is very transparent and thorough," said Mr Cade.

Forest and Bird appealed the MSC eco-label certification when it was initially awarded to the hoki fishery. The MSC took that appeal to an independent tribunal, where the certification was upheld. Forest and Bird were later asked to participate in workshops to improve management of the hoki fishery and they have declined to be involved said Mr Cade.

"To come out and say to people 'don't eat this fish' is absurd as they have rejected involvement with any of the ongoing MSC related activities and barely participate in any of the annual processes that lead to understanding and management of hoki. "

The commercial sector of the hoki fishery has taken a number of steps to improve its sustainability over the last two years, including leading the drive to reduce the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC). Mr Cade says that the industry has made the right decision, as they are going to see the benefits of this in the next few years.

"There have been environmental factors that have impacted on the stocks the fishery catches, but over-fishing is certainly not the issue. Consumers can be assured of the sustainability of the fishery - proof of this is our MSC certification, which is audited annually by an international team of independent scientists and managers."

"We are committed to maintaining our MSC certification and we are currently undergoing the final stages of re-assessment. This process has involved a careful assessment of the fishery by an independent agency, the SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance), as well as consultation with a wide range of groups, including government agencies, the fishing industry, environmental groups and other parties with an interest in the hoki fishery."

"Our industry has made some tough business decisions to safeguard the fishery's long-term sustainability and this, along with our track record in mitigation measures, makes us confident of a positive outcome in our bid for re-certification," Mr Cade said.

Note: The Marine Stewardship Council is an independent, global, non-profit organisation, which has developed a certification standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries. It was set up by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Unilever in 1997, but is now run as an independent charitable trust based in London.

ENDS

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