21 December 1999
The Controller and Auditor-General's report on Information Requirements for the Sustainable Management of Fisheries confirms that fisheries research has slipped into a parlous state after years of National government underfunding and neglect, says Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson.
"Clearly we need to increase the amount of research into New Zealand's fisheries and marine environment," Mr Hodgson says. "We simply don't know enough to be able to make quality decisions on sustainable use of the resource. There is a clear risk that either the industry or the environment is being penalised as a result of insufficient knowledge.
"Of particular concern is the limited research into the aquatic environment, as opposed to stock assessment research. Our knowledge of this environment is very meagre indeed and at current levels of research funding it would remain so for the foreseeable future."
Mr Hodgson said he was also keen to review proposals put forward under the previous Government for the fishing industry to become a direct purchaser of fisheries research. Presently research is directed by the Ministry of Fisheries and the industry is required to fund it through a cost recovery process.
"The industry has played an important role in providing some research, but it is a different matter again to purchase it directly, even according to strict specifications. If devolution is to proceed it must be at a rate and in areas that do not endanger the integrity of public policy. Because both the industry and the environment might be at risk if we go down the route of direct purchasing, this is something I will be examining closely in the New Year," Mr Hodgson said.
Contact: Graeme Speden, press secretary 04 471 9707 or 025 270 9055