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Ministry Of Fisheries Mislead Over Fishery Bill

Published: Wed 8 Sep 1999 12:11 AM
Ministry Of Fisheries Misleads Over Unsustainable Fishing Bill
The Forest and Bird Society rejected claims by the Ministry of Fisheries that the recently passed Fisheries Amendment Bill (No 1) will provide for sustainable fisheries.
Society Spokesperson, Barry Weeber, said sections 14A to 14C of the Amendment Bill enable the Minister of Fisheries to legalise the over-fishing of many fish populations.
"The over-fishing provisions in the Bill will allow fishers to reduce fish stocks to extremely low levels. Levels below 20 percent of their original un-fished level, and possibly below 10 percent, could be sanctioned under the new Act."
Mr Weeber said the claims made by the Ministry of Fisheries about the content of the Bill were inaccurate.
"The provisions are not limited to bycatch species but even if they were, these so-called bycatch species are an important part of the marine ecosystem."
Mr Weeber said the Ministry of Fisheries appears to be confusing the provisions that relate to individual fishers with those that relate to the combined catch.
"Despite claims by the Ministry of Fisheries the Bill's provisions which relate to individual fishers are actually worse than those in the 1996 Fisheries Act."
Mr Weeber said the passed Bill now allowed most fishers to over-fish legal limits by up to 10 percent.
"This Bill is a major step backwards and its tragic that the Ministry of Fisheries does not recognise this."
Mr Weeber said the ability of the fishing industry to direct purchase fisheries research (required for sustainability reasons) was like allowing the tobacco industry to do research on the effects of smoking.
"The Ministry of Fisheries is ignoring threats that members of the fishing industry have made against some fisheries researchers because they don't like their advice on sustainable limits."
Mr Weeber said these threats have been discussed with the Ministry of Fisheries but instead of taking action the industry has just been given more power to contract that research.
Mr Weeber said it will be impossible under the new Bill to set standards and specifications which avoid the potential for bias.
"The Ministry is failing to grasp the need for independent fisheries research directly contracted by them."
ENDS

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