Straight talking to the fishing industry
Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton had a clear message for the fishing industry today. "Anyone who thinks there are short-term solutions to the issues is telling tall fishing tales. We need to do better at pulling together to achieve both development and sustainability. Everyone has to give something."
Jim Anderton noted those areas in which cooperation between the industry and the government had brought success. "Aquaculture, Benthic Protection Areas, the Deepwater Memorandum of Understanding and the paua fishery are examples we can build on."
He expressed his disappointment, however, in the reaction to discussion on Shared Fisheries. "What I have actually found is defensiveness. The current management of Shared Fisheries is unsatisfactory. It has to get better. This is not about undermining the Deed of Settlement. This is about future proofing the Settlement and safeguarding the resource for our mokopuna."
Jim Anderton also made reference to his proposed amendment to the Fisheries Act, saying that his intention is to clarify the law and provide clearer direction to those making fisheries management decisions where information is inadequate.
"My amendment will make clear that where information is uncertain, decision-makers should be particularly careful. Fish left in the sea, are fish in the bank. To keep on taking fish when you don’t have a good idea of how many are left is, in my view, like robbing the bank. When the Act is amended there may well be constraints in short-term utilisation of some fisheries. But those short-term inconveniences will help to ensure a more sustainable base for the industry in the long-term."
The world market for seafood is thriving. Fishing in New Zealand is seven times bigger today than it was twenty years ago and seafood exports are worth over $3 million a day to New Zealand.
"I believe the government is being a very constructive partner in engaging with the industry," Jim Anderton said. "When I met with the Seafic policy council earlier this year your representatives argued cost increases would be crippling. They asked me not to introduce them at a time when the industry is suffering significant cost pressure from the exchange rate and fuel costs. I took those messages on board and I directed the Ministry to defer the bulk of these initiatives at this time. So you can be reassured that I will respond co-operatively to reasoned representation."
He took the opportunity to outline the Budget allocation of $4.6 million for the four years 2007/08 to 2010/11 for environmental certification of New Zealand’s fisheries exports. "The Labour-Progressive Government is providing this funding so that seafood producers can leverage off our world-leading quota management system to get greater premiums for their exports. This initiative is designed so you can get higher premiums for your products in international markets and be rewarded for taking a sustainable approach to fisheries management."
Jim Anderton went on to say, however, that he was unimpressed that parts of the industry were not showing more leadership in protecting the resource base sustainably. " How does it help any fishing business in the long term if stocks are ruined? What sort of basis for building an industry is that?
"I am personally committed to its development and I will reasonably listen to any pragmatic and sensible concerns about its development. I believe the issues I've just outlined show the industry can do more to show its commitment as well. And I invite you to work on the relationship with government and its agencies because that is the best way to maximise your input and secure the best outcomes as you see them.
"No one is going to get everything they want. With goodwill we can all get what we can accept. Everyone has a stake in the development of the industry and in managing it to mutual advantage," Jim Anderton concluded.
Read the Minister's speech in full