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Call for inquiry into hoki fishery mismanagement

Hon. Dr Nick Smith MP National Party Environment Spokesman

24 September 2004

Call for inquiry into hoki fishery mismanagement

National Party Environment spokesman Nick Smith is calling for an inquiry into the Government u-turn on hoki quota.

"The hoki industry is an environmental and economic disaster, and an independent inquiry is needed to establish the reasons for its gross mismanagement.

"The Fisheries Ministry has just slashed quota to 100,000 tonnes, despite justifying a 250,000 tonne annual catch for years. Next week's quota cuts from 180,000 to 100,000 tonnes show just how far wide of the mark the Ministry has been.

"The only possible conclusion is that the Ministry has totally screwed up in previous years. "This issue must not be swept under the carpet. We must act to ensure the systems are robust and to safeguard the viability of other fisheries in the Quota Management System (QMS).

"Hoki is New Zealand's most important fishery, employing more than 2,500 people, with exports of $320 million per year.

"The implications of these quota cuts are very serious in areas like my electorate of Nelson where jobs in catching, processing and servicing the industry are at risk.

"New Zealand has put huge faith in the QMS, but it is only as good as the processes for setting the total allowable catch. Even a good system will fail if the numbers are wrong.

"I'm seeking support from the Fisheries Minister for an independent inquiry into how the catch limits were set so far off the mark and to see if there are lessons to be learned for the setting of future catch limits.

"We simply can not have this sort of flip-flop affecting one of New Zealand's most important industries without serious questions being answered," says Dr Smith.

ENDS

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