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Thousands Protest Against Proposed Fisheries Legislation

More than 5,500 people felt so aggrieved by the controversial parts of the Fisheries Amendment Bill, they wrote unique submissions opposing it. The bill has massive implications for fisheries sustainability in New Zealand

The new legislation would force through preset decision-making, which risks removing the Oceans and Fisheries Minister from oversight in setting fishing allocations. It paves the way to also remove the ability of anyone except commercial fishers to have any input.

In addition, the legislation brings non-commercial fishing into the same framework that attempts to regulate commercial fishing. This opens the door to ending the ability of people to go out and fish for their family and friends if commercial fishers over harvest.

LegaSea Programme Lead, Sam Woolford said “Thousands of the people making submissions shows that New Zealanders have little faith that the Ministry of Primary Industries and commercial fishers will manage our fisheries appropriately without oversight. These two groups have made such far-reaching mistakes in the past. They have an economic imperative rather than a conservation focus.

“Look what happened with scallops - most of New Zealand is now closed to commercial scallop harvesting because scallops were pushed to the point that most beds are on the verge of disappearing.

“Look what they’ve done with crayfish in the Hauraki Gulf, which are now being described as functionally extinct.

“Look what they’re trying to do to Tarakihi. They’ve fished the population down to 17 percent of original population size and the industry is fighting in the courts to continue on the basis that it’s economically viable to do so.

“This bill seemingly puts the fox in charge of the henhouse and risks leaving nothing for local communities,” said Allan Davidson, of the New Zealand Underwater Association.

New Zealand Sport Fishing Council President, Bob Gutsell summed it up, “This complex and unfair Fisheries Amendment Bill attempts to apply overly simplistic robot-like controls to managing the future of our fisheries, and completely does away with ongoing public consultation.”

LegaSea, together with thousands of New Zealanders, wants the legislation split to remove these two contentious new changes, but to leave the rest of the bill that relates to introducing cameras on fishing boats and landing everything the commercial industry catches.

LegaSea is also continuing to call for submissions. “Although the public submission process has now closed, we are continuing to collect people’s thoughts on this secretive legislation, that has hidden its true consequences behind complex, technical language under the guise of introducing cameras on fishing boats. We will take these to the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries to show the united voice of New Zealanders against these huge changes,” said Sam Woolford.

LegaSea thanks all those who have already made a submission, and marine and environmental groups including Greenpeace, the NZ Sport Fishing Council and its affiliates, Forest and Bird, the New Zealand Underwater Association and the Outboard Boating Club for their support to ensure a fair outcome from this process, and more fish in the water for future generations.

Submissions outlining concerns about the Fisheries Amendment Bill can be made here: https://legasea.co.nz/action/campaigns/fisheries-amendment-bill-2022-submission/

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