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Snapper quota cuts should fall on the commercial catch

MEDIA STATEMENT

Wednesday 18th September 2013

Snapper quota cuts should fall on the commercial catch

The Māori Party says any snapper quota cuts should fall on the commercial catch, not recreational or customary fishers. “We do not agree with the Government’s proposal to limit recreational catch, while leaving commercial take virtually untouched,” said Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell. 

“There are competing interests in this issue, and they can be ranked in order. The most important issue for us is to maintain a sustainable fishery. If the existing snapper stock cannot sustain the current fishery, then we must reduce the catch to allow fish numbers to build up.

“Our second priority is the ability of hapū and whānau to provide for themselves from their traditional fishing. The Treaty fisheries settlement reflects that by requiring that customary fishers be provided for first, then recreational fishers; and what is left of the sustainable catch becomes the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC). It follows that if the total catch is too high, then cuts should first be made to the TACC.

“Thirdly, we think the fishing industry needs a better economic model to add value and increase margins by innovative processing. At present the main drive is to increase our share in the global marketplace by catching more fish.

“There are serious problems with the management of the quota system. The most obvious is dumping of dead fish by commercial fishers. Dumping is an abomination, a waste of food to protect profit, while ordinary people go hungry because they cannot afford snapper at over $40 per kilo in the shops.

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“Unscrupulous commercial fishers have brought on the need to cut quotas. If illegally dumped fish were brought into account, we would all see why the fishery cannot sustain the current catch. If illegal dumping of fish could be eliminated, there would be no need to cut the current quota.

“The government proposes to deal with dumping by monitoring and surveillance, not addressing the perverse incentives, such as steep fines, which encourage dumping.

“We want to see more work on this. For example, an amnesty period for commercial fishers to hand over all fish caught in excess of quota rather than dumping them, should be investigated. Such fish could be landed, confiscated, and supplied to hospitals and food banks.

“The deflationary effect on price would create an incentive not to over-fish. Landing all fish caught would also provide reliable data for future management.

“In the end, the fishing industry would benefit most from adding maximum value to every part of the fish. Iceland has turned around its fortunes from fishing and Māori fishers are looking to emulate that model. We think this is the way of the future.

ENDS

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