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Fishing Body Seeks Assurances From Government

STATEMENT

2 October 2015

Fishing Body Seeks Assurances From Government

The organisation that represents the country’s inshore fishers – Fisheries Inshore New Zealand – wants to work with the Government to develop mutually supportive utilisation and conservation outcomes in fisheries management and measures to protect the wider marine environment.

It considers that achieving these needs to have processes that ensure that people whose livelihoods are fundamentally affected through political decisions, such as the creation of the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, are fully consulted before those decisions are made.

This week, in front of the world’s governing body the Government announced the establishment of what will become New Zealand’s largest marine reserve.

“With no prior consultation, fishers with interests in the Kermadec fishing area first heard about the marine reserve was when they woke up and read it in the newspapers or heard it on television or the radio,” says FINZ Chairman Laws Lawson. “The lack of consultation with industry and other interested stakeholders, including Treaty partners, should be extremely concerning to everyone, not to forget the unnecessary prohibition of all fishing activities,” he said.

Mr Lawson said that New Zealand is known for being “smart” in the management of its fisheries, but the creation of the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary (“KOS”) is “reverting to the unnecessary swinging of a blunt tool”.

Fisheries Inshore notes that the KOS builds on earlier decisions to protect the entire territorial sea and the 2007 decision of the fishing industry to prohibit bottom trawling in this entire area – known as Benthic Protection Area, a type of fishing marine reserve that protects seabed habitat in fragile deepwater ecosystems.

“The seabed within the unique Kermadec habitat is protected from fishing currently. While we welcome the extension of the BPA to prevent mining, this ultimate protection of the habitat would still be achieved even if existing fishing practices are continued. If the Government had spoken to industry before making this decision, they would have realised they could create the KOS and protect the unique habitat but still allow the current fishing– everyone wins.”

“For only four months of the year, the surface long-line fishery now operating targets the highly migratory stocks moving through the area. Surface long-lining consists of floating gear within 200 metres of the surface and with prescribed seabird mitigation devices. Such fishing does not impact on the ecological integrity of the Kermadec habitats, or the benthos 1000 metres or more below the lines, or the terrestrial ecosystem, which already has a 12 nautical mile protection zone surrounding it,” he said.

“Industry has put safeguards and measures in place to ensure we do not damage fish populations or ecosystems. Where are the incentives for responsible fishing if Government then brings in abrupt change with no recognition of the investment made or businesses affected?”

FINZ wants to collaborate with Government to ensure that the detail associated with this decision and all future decisions involving marine protected areas are made with full consideration of all available information and with industry being brought into the discussion at the beginning and not the end.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: What is Fisheries Inshore New Zealand?

Fisheries Inshore New Zealand represents the collective interests of inshore finfish, pelagic and tuna quota owners, as well as permit holders and fishers. It is one of the five Sector Representative Entities that make up the New Zealand seafood industry structure. It works to bring policy, technical, practical fishing experience and science expertise together to develop and communicate a national perspective on inshore finfish, pelagic and tuna fisheries.

Our members are inshore finfish, pelagic and tuna quota owners, industry’s Commercial Stakeholder Organisations that have a focus on regional fish-stocks, local fish management groups, fishers and permit holders. Fisheries Inshore members collectively own more than 51 percent of the quota in 187 inshore, pelagic and tuna fish stocks and have shareholdings in the remaining 52 or so other fish-stocks.

New Zealand’s inshore fishery extends around 15,000km of coastline to 12 nautical miles in water depths to about 200 metres. Our pelagic and tuna fisheries operate both within this zone and out to our EEZ limit. The most common harvesting methods in our inshore waters are trawling, set netting, bottom long-lining and potting.

The predominant fish species caught by New Zealand's inshore fishers are snapper, blue cod, bluenose, tarakihi, warehou, gurnard, rig, blue moki, flounder, hapuka (groper), trevally, turbot, school shark and john dory. Tuna and pelagic fishers catch southern blue fin tuna, skipjack tuna, albacore, kahawai and mackerels.

New Zealand’s inshore fishers provide high quality seafood harvested sustainably under the quota management system. Fish are sold fresh into our domestic market and exported chilled or frozen.

ENDS

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