Fish­ing hopes to lift in­dus­try im­age

Wairarapa News - - FRONT PAGE - HEATHER CHALMERS

A fish­ing code de­vel­oped by ma­jor fish­ing com­pa­nies is be­ing rolled out across 14 ports as the in­dus­try looks to lift its im­age when it comes to pro­tect­ing the ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment.

Seafood New Zealand chief ex­ec­u­tive Tim Pankhurst said the code rep­re­sented sim­ple rules about how it ex­pected the in­dus­try to be­have.

‘‘Most skip­pers are al­ready com­ply­ing with them. In 2017 we con­ceded that the in­dus­try had not al­ways got it right, but it was de­ter­mined to do bet­ter. The in­dus­try, over past few years, has made huge strides in en­vi­ron­men­tal care, pro­tec­tion of en­dan­gered species, and trans­parency.

‘‘The code of con­duct is not just a doc­u­ment to gather dust. We want it in ev­ery wheel­house and board­room in the coun­try and that is why we are trav­el­ling the coun­try to re­in­force the im­por­tance of the code to skip­pers ev­ery­where.

The com­mer­cial fish­ing in­dus­try has come un­der heat from en­vi­ron­men­tal cam­paign­ers con­cerned about sea life, in­clud­ing thou­sands of birds, be­ing killed in com­mer­cial fish­ing nets ev­ery year.

Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries (MPI) fig­ures show a dozen whales, two orca, six hec­tors dol­phins and thou­sands of seals have been caught by com­mer­cial fish­ing ves­sels in New Zealand wa­ters since 2013 as well as nearly 10,500 seabirds.

Pankhurst said the fish­ing in­dus­try had made much progress since a few years ago.

‘‘The strides in in­no­va­tion are sig­nif­i­cant. Ini­tia­tives such as pre­ci­sion seafood har­vest­ing, which de­liv­ers ex­cep­tional qual­ity fish through a world-class han­dling process, and the acous­tic op­ti­cal sys­tem, which tar­gets par­tic­u­lar species up to a kilo­me­tre down, are world-lead­ing,’’ said Pankhurst.

‘‘Bird mit­i­ga­tion meth­ods are manda­tory and we work closely with gov­ern­ment agen­cies to min­imise en­dan­gered species cap­tures. In many cases the in­dus­try has vol­un­tar­ily re­moved it­self from ar­eas of con- cern. Fur­ther, de­spite what some be­lieve, the ad­vent of cam­eras on ves­sels is not some­thing the in­dus­try op­pose.’’

The code was en­dorsed at a meet­ing in Lyt­tle­ton. The in­dus­try would re­port an­nu­ally.

A fish­ing code has the sup­port of ma­jor fish­ing com­pa­nies.

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