Environmental Organizations state orange roughy stocks are at less than 20 pc of the original ones. (Photo: Greenpeace/MacKenzie)
Green groups back Forest and Bird's latest sustainability recommendations
Wednesday, February 08, 2012, 00:20 (GMT + 9)
The New Zealand quota management system (QMS) does not ensure sustainability and consumers should therefore seek industry-independent guides, the country's Environment and Conservation Organisations (ECO) declared this week.
The announcement follows environmental group Forest and Bird's latest best fish consumer guide based on a thorough ecological assessment as opposed to fish numbers. The results show that blue cod, rock lobster and kahawai are okay to eat while popular species such as snapper, orange roughy and hoki should be avoided.
Cath Wallace, environmental economist and co-chair of ECO, tells that the fishing industry's assertion stating that consumers need not worry about sustainability because fisheries are managed under the QMS is incorrect. Consumers should instead look at the information offered by non-industry sources such as Forest and Bird.
“There is a common and carefully cultivated misconception that the NZ QMS delivers superb fisheries management, but this is not true”, she affirmed. Too often, the catch limits set by the Minister of Fisheries follow down a fish stock as it plummets, rather than preventing the fall.”
“The ecological impacts of fishing such as destruction of the living corals and other organisms on the sea floor and the deaths of sea lions, fur seals, and seabirds are not taken into account or are given only slight weight in decisions”, Wallace noted.
Mike Joy, a senior lecturer at Massey University, agrees. He believes Forest & Bird's best fish guide is proof that the QMS is inadequate for many species, Radio New Zealand reports.
In contrast, Forest & Bird's ecological assessment does consider factors such as bycatch and methods of fishing, he said.
Meanwhile, the Seafood Industry Council has condemned the findings and insisted that all fish species mentioned in the guide are caught sustainably.
But the Environment and Conservation Organisations noted that every orange roughy stock now stands at less than 20 per cent of the original fish stock size. The Challenger and Puysegur orange roughy stocks were estimated to be down at 3 per cent and 6 per cent of the original fish stock size, yet the Minister of Fisheries has allowed fishing to resume in these fisheries before they have recovered.
“The Quota system has allowed a huge asset strip of the New Zealand fish stocks because of relentless industry influence and no public processes”, said Wallace.
“There is talk of a recovery of the hoki fish stocks but the response has been a high-risk strategy of treating these as definitely recovered and an increase in the fish catch allowed. This is risky and takes no account of the collateral damage to fur seals, sea birds and the sea floor dwelling species damaged by trawling”, she stressed.
- New sustainable fish guide draws controversy
By Natalia Real
Photo Courtesy of FIS Member Greenpeace New Zealand