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Labour fishing policy unclear on fishing industry

Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society
PO Box 631, Wellington

Media Release - Wellington - 19 October 1999

Labour fishing policy unclear on fishing industry control

The Forest and Bird Protection Society today called on Labour to come clean on whether it supported the Government's push for greater fishing industry control of fisheries management.

Society spokesperson, Barry Weeber, said Labour's Fisheries Policy had fudged the issue of whether they supported the Government drive for greater industry control of fisheries management.

"The Government has passed legislation which will enable greater industry control."

Mr Weeber said the Society welcomed a commitment in Labour's policy for sustainability research to be the responsibility of the Crown.

"The fishing industry has been making a big drive to carry out that research itself and has been promoting policy with Government which would see all sustainability research carried out by the industry."

Mr Weeber said the officials/industry joint cost recovery working group had promoted this policy to Government and it had been referred to the Ministry of Fisheries for consideration in next year's planning.

"The fishing industry has already got the Ministry of Fisheries to agree to the deferral of this year's west coast North Island snapper tagging programme. The fishing industry is now proposing that they carry out this work next year."

Mr Weeber said it was extremely disappointing that Labour was still committed to the National Government policy of legalising the over-fishing of fish stocks.

"The over-fishing provisions in the 1998 Fisheries Amendment Act will enable fishers to legally 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 the quota management system was not the success that Labour and Fisheries Minister, John Luxton, had painted it.

"The over-fishing of orange roughy, oreos and other species had occurred under the quota management system as the fishing industry fought to prevent or limit catch reductions."

Mr Weeber said giving the fishing industry property rights in fish had lead to cases where fishers opposed catch reduction so as to retain the value of their quota on their financial balance sheets.

"It was clear that the quota management system by itself could not deliver sustainable fisheries management and that other tools including marine reserves were required to ensure ecologically sustainable fisheries."

Mr Weeber said the Society was also disappointed the policy did not include a stronger to commitment to marine reserves given their importance for biodiversity conservation, fisheries research and management.

For further information contact Barry Weeber (04)385-7374.

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