11, Feb, 2010

Greenpeace slams endangered catch quotas

Category: ECO Inc

Greenpeace slams Government proposal to increase catch of critically endangered species

Greenpeace is calling for the closure of the southern bluefin tuna fishery and the immediate withdrawal of a “scandalous plan” to increase New Zealand’s quota for the critically endangered fish (1).

More than 1400 Greenpeace supporters have petitioned the Ministry of Fisheries to put a stop to a proposal that would see New Zealand’s total allowable catch of the tuna increase by 25 per cent at the same time as fish stocks are at an historic low. Submissions on the proposal close tomorrow (2).

Globally, bluefin tuna stocks are under severe pressure from overfishing. The European Parliament yesterday confirmed its support for stricter protection of the endangered northern bluefin tuna (3). In recent weeks a rowing number of governments, including France and Italy, institutions, scientists and stakeholders have declared their support for a suspension in the international trade of northern bluefin tuna, which is caught mainly in the Mediterranean Sea.

Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner Karli Thomas said the latest figures released by the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) showed stocks had fallen to an alarming five per cent of un-fished levels.

She said the Commission had made a “half-hearted” attempt to halt the decline by agreeing to a 20 per cent cut in fishing internationally.

“Under the Ministry of Fisheries own Harvest Strategy Standard, this species would already be classified as collapsed and be considered for closure (4).”

In submissions to the Ministry, Greenpeace supporters say New Zealand must work with the other countries involved in the southern bluefin tuna fishery to close the fishery and give the species a chance to recover.

“Globally, bluefin tuna fisheries are collapsing right before our eyes. Southern bluefin tuna is listed as critically endangered yet the Ministry of Fisheries is not only allowing the fishery to continue, but it's proposing to increase the quota within the current fishing season.

“The Ministry of Fisheries is now trying to sneak their scandalous plan into action. They’ve asked for public comments during January and February, when most Kiwis are more likely out fishing themselves, or at least at the beach, rather than reading the Ministry of Fisheries’ website.”

She said the proposal had the potential to harm New Zealand’s clean, green reputation which has been tarnished “too many times” by the fishing industry which continues to overfish some stocks and used destructive fishing methods like bottom trawling.

“New Zealand hoki and orange roughy are being removed from sale by retailers overseas that set higher environmental standards than our fishing industry is meeting. The Ministry of Fisheries is supposed to be sustainably managing our fisheries. It is failing.”

The global destruction of bluefin tuna stocks is featured in the movie, The End of the Line, which will screen during the Documentary Edge film festival in early March in Auckland and Wellington (5).