New Zealand fishing industry disputes the findings of the guide 'Best Fish Guide'. (Photo: Forest & Bird / FIS)
New sustainable fish guide draws controversy
Tuesday, February 07, 2012, 00:50 (GMT + 9)
Environmental group Forest and Bird has unveiled the results of its latest best fish consumer guide based on a thorough ecological assessment as opposed to fish numbers. The group determined that blue cod, rock lobster and kahawai are good meal choices while popular species such as snapper, orange roughy and hoki rate poorly.
To be released this week, the Best Fish Guide rates the sustainability of 78 commercial fisheries.
Wallet card of Best Fish Guide. (Image: Forest and Bird)
The Seafood Industry Council has criticised the findings. It opined that the guide was really designed to make consumers feel guilty and that in truth all fish species mentioned in the guide are caught sustainably.
“The updated guide, to be released this week, is expected to say that there are very few New Zealand fish species that we can eat with a clear conscience. Not only is this wrong, but it is also an affront to the commonsense of the New Zealand consumer”, said Peter Bodeker, chief executive of the Council.
The industry also argues that all commonly eaten species are part of the Quota Management System, which employs independent scientific data to manage fish stocks.
“The proper guide to what fish can be eaten is what fish is available in any reputable fish shop, because all commonly eaten species are part of the government-managed Quota Management System which uses independent scientific data to manage fish stocks. If stocks are depleted the total allowable catch (TAC) is reduced, sometimes to zero if that's necessary”, he asserted.
But Katrina Subedar, Forest and Bird's conservation advocate, claims that the guide is meant to give a broader picture of the situation.
She noted that even though the level of fish stocks is important, the assessment for the guide also considers wider ecological impacts such as the levels and species involved in bycatch and the management of the fishery.
Forest and Bird hopes its guide will push New Zealand's commercial fishing industry to give up the use of ecologically harmful practices and help protect endangered species such as Maui's dolphin.
The group contends that 42 per cent of the species on its guide are overfished or showing "substantial decline" in stocks, Fairfax NZ News reports.
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By Natalia Real