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LegaSea calls for release of damning reports

19 MAY, 2016

LegaSea calls for release of damning reports

LegaSea, the public outreach arm of the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council, is calling on the Ministry for Primary Industries to release the reports into Operations Achilles and Hippocamp exposing systemic fish dumping, wastage and cover-ups.

These Operations were mentioned in the recent University of Auckland “Reconstruction of marine fisheries catches for New Zealand (1950-2010)” report, and both suggest widespread problems in the commercial fishing industry.

Operation Achilles and Operation Hippocamp both ran in the 2012/13 year and looked at questions around whether trawlers regularly dumped catch in any significant way.

The report suggests both Operations found widespread, endemic abuse of the Quota Management System and suggested some activities bordered on the illegal.

LegaSea spokesman Richard Baker says seeing the full reports is an important step towards understanding the commercial fishing industry’s role in the issue and what the Ministry has done to address the serious issues.

“We have had anecdotal evidence of fish dumping for many years, including photographs and testimony from numerous individuals that show unwanted fish washing up on our shores. If MPI has investigated these claims it’s vital the information is made public.”

The Reconstruction report suggests both Hippocamp and Achilles found multiple instances of catch dumping and other activity that falls outside the remit of the QMS.

The Reconstruction report quotes from a report on Operation Achilles saying:

“Following these findings the five other vessels involved in this project were also examined, which revealed that four of the five vessels openly discarded substantial quantities of quota fish and or did not report fish as they are required to under the Fisheries Act (p. 2). While this behaviour is alarming it is also not surprising as previous research and observations have indicated that the dumping/non reporting has been occurring in this fishery for many years (p.19)”

Baker says LegaSea would like to know what happened to the reports into these Operations and what steps, if any, were taken to address the problem of breaches of the Act.

“We have submitted an official information request for the reports and any advice given to the Minister, but in interviews given this week, Nathan Guy has suggested he was never told of the Operations. If that is true, we want to know why the Ministry withheld that information from their Minister.”

ENDS

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