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Fisheries Bill legalises unsustainable fishing

The Forest and Bird Protection Society today condemned the passing of the unsustainable Fisheries Amendment Bill by Parliament under urgency on Saturday.

Society spokesperson, Barry Weeber, said this Bill legalises over-fishing and gives the fishing industry too much power over fisheries management.

"The over-fishing provisions in the Bill will enable fishers to reduce fish stocks to extremely low levels. Levels below 20 percent of their original unfished level, and possibly below 10 percent, could be sanctioned under the new Act."

Mr Weeber said this is a disaster for sustainable fisheries and for the marine environment.

"The National Government is taking a cavalier attitude towards the marine environment when a precautionary approach should be taken."

Mr Weeber said giving the industry greater power to contract fisheries research and maintain critical databases required for setting catch limits will only lead to further mining of fish stocks already under threat.

"These changes will marginalise recreational and customary Maori fishers and further exclude the public from fisheries management decisions.

Mr Weeber said the Minister appears to be taking an ideologically driven approach to fisheries management and ignoring the evidence of overfished stocks.

"Despite the claims about the effectiveness of the quota management system, nearly every orange roughy and oreo fish stock which has been assessed has been reduced below the size which would support long term sustainable yields.

Mr Weeber said in some cases orange roughy stocks have been reduced to seven percent of what they were once in less than 10 years.

"The industry has every year refused to accept much needed cuts in catch limits and instead spent money trying to find other orange roughy stocks to plunder."

Mr Weeber said this reckless fishing must stop if the marine environment is to recover.

"Fisheries management is a major issue in the Vote for the Environment Charter released a fortnight ago. We will be asking all political parties how they stand on these changes."

Mr Weeber said he noted that only the Greens and the Alliance voted against these changes to the 1996 Fisheries Act.


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