Min­is­ter of Fish­eries urged to ‘stand firm’

The Northland Age - - Local News -

Recre­ational fish­ing group Le­gaSea is urg­ing Min­is­ter of Fish­eries Stu­art Nash to “stand firm” against in­dus­try pres­sure to dump the in­tro­duc­tion of cam­eras and elec­tronic mon­i­tor­ing on com­mer­cial fish­ing boats.

Le­gaSea is chal­leng­ing in­dus­try claims that it is en­gag­ing in best prac­tice fish­ing en­deav­ours, and that cam­eras and other forms of mon­i­tor­ing are not re­quired.

Dave Turner, di­rec­tor of fish­eries man­age­ment at the Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries, had been quoted say­ing, “We es­ti­mate that if we found the golden bul­let to stop dis­card­ing, we would prob­a­bly put over half of the in­shore fleet out of busi­ness overnight.”

That ad­mis­sion alone should be truth enough to con­tinue with sur­veil­lance cam­eras, Le­gaSea spokesman Scott Macin­doe said.

Mr Turner had gone on to say that fish­eries man­age­ment could not quan­tify the ton­nages in­volved, but sus­pected they were sig­nif­i­cant to the point that they were im­pact­ing on stocks.

“When his­tor­i­cal claims against the in­dus­try of dump­ing were in­ves­ti­gated in 2013, MPI of­fi­cials coun­tered by an­nounc­ing plans for a new elec­tronic mon­i­tor­ing pack­age to solve these sys­temic sins. Now it seems we are to forego even this,” Mr Macin­doe said.

“While many boats are run pro­fes­sion­ally, there are fish­ers who op­er­ate il­le­gally. They are dif­fi­cult to catch, be­cause of­fend­ing is eas­ily hid­den far out at sea.

“These fish­ers give the in­dus­try a bad name, but worse still, they give the fish­ery a hid­ing. This has to stop. The pub­lic are sick of it; the stocks can’t sus­tain this kind of abuse, and un­less these op­er­a­tors are ex­posed or forced to change their ways, ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing our kids will lose.

“We know that more seabirds are killed on boats with cam­eras than are re­ported killed on boats with­out di­rect ob­servers in place,” he added.

“We know from the Sea Around Us re­search that the in­dus­try dumps more fish than it lands. We know that the in­dus­try was happy to have cam­eras when they were run by its own pri­vately-held com­pany, and we know that the in­dus­try lost the footage recorded in the early tri­als.

“Cam­eras are the least we can do to pro­tect our fish­eries, our dol­phins and our seabirds, and we strongly urge the Min­is­ter to make the right de­ci­sion here.

“The in­dus­try needs re­form. We’ve called for a Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into the way our fish­eries are man­aged, and we need to know what is go­ing on aboard these ves­sels. Af­ter all, our fish­eries are a pub­lic re­source, and as such we all have kaiti­ak­i­tanga obli­ga­tions to ful­fil.

“Re­cently we ap­plauded the Min­is­ter for re­ject­ing the in­dus­try call for cam­era footage to be with­held from pub­lic scru­tiny. Now, sir, please put our fish­eries first and fol­low through with both the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the elec­tronic mon­i­tor­ing pack­age as well as a full and proper in­quiry into the way our fish­eries are be­ing man­aged.”

Stu­art Nash

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