20, Jun, 2005

National's fisheries policy will lead to further fishing job losses

Category: ECO Inc

The National Party's fisheries policy is likely to lead to greater destruction of the marine environment, more fisheries collapses and therefore further fishing industry job losses, according to Forest and Bird.

"The policy aims at removing an ecosystem approach to fisheries management which is in the 1996 Fisheries Act passed by National," said Forest and Bird's senior researcher Barry Weeber. "This policy will encourage greater over-fishing, more seabird and marine mammal bykill and the continued destruction of marine ecosystems by fishing methods such as bottom trawling."

"We're mystified by National's criticism of fisheries management as being too focused on ecosystems and preservation. It's nonsense because this has been the key area where the Ministry of Fisheries' has failed to fully implement the 1996 Fisheries Act," he said.

"If the Ministry had taken an ecosystems approach we wouldn't have seen the big loss of industry jobs from the closure of two of the orange roughy fisheries and the collapse of the hoki fishery."

"The long-term future of both industrial and recreational fishing is dependent on the maintenance of a healthy marine environment. It is very disappointing to see that the National Party is preparing to undermine that future."

"These policies are a radical departure from National's last term in office, and only offer New Zealanders depleted oceans and a collapsed fishing industry."

Key National Party policies released over the last week include plans to: - Retreat from ecosystem based management of the oceans - Promote aquaculture management areas and curtail the Minister of Conservation's role; - Encourage fishing in Antarctic waters

"If Nick Smith had been brave enough to outline these policies at Forest and Bird's recent Annual Conference, there would have been an uproar."

"At our conference Nick Smith spoke about improving the management of the oceans and made the point that the last time National was in power it passed environmental laws like the Fisheries Act (1996). Yet the policies outlined just days later would gut those laws," he said.

"He told us that oceans policy needed reforming. He didn't tell us that National wanted to abandon environmental management of the oceans. The new Fisheries Policy represents a major retreat from the principles of ecosystem based management that National put in the Fisheries Act in 1996," he said.

Contact: : Barry Weeber, Senior Researcher 04 801 2212 or 021 627 329 Kevin Hackwell, Conservation Manager, 04 801 2215, 021 227 842