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Catch Limit Based On Sound Science

Economics +1 more

NEW ZEALAND - The Ministry of Fisheries is currently consulting the public on a range of proposed changes to catch limits in deepwater fisheries including orange roughy, hoki, rubyfish and others.

All the proposed changes are based on the best available scientific research and fish stock assessment information. The Ministry of Fisheries has a large scale programme of scientific research and monitoring, spending around $20million on fisheries research every year.

“The research that underpins our proposals has been through a rigorous process of assessment and peer review by working groups of highly qualified fishery scientists along with representatives from environmental interest groups and the fishing industry” said Ministry of Fisheries Deputy Chief Executive Gavin Lockwood.

Good fisheries management requires an ongoing process of review and adjustment based on robust scientific research and stock assessment.

The hoki fishery continues to rebuild strongly with the latest research showing that both stocks are well within target levels and would remain at these levels with the proposed increase.

“The latest science show that a larger increase would be sustainable but the Ministry of Fisheries wants to take a cautious and conservative approach’ said Mr Lockwood.

The orange roughy fishery on the Challenger Plateau, an area north-west of the South Island, has rebuilt to levels that satisfy robust criteria for re-opening. The fishery has been closed since October 2000 to protect long-term sustainability after fish numbers dropped below acceptable levels. The fish stock has been rebuilding and increasing in size over this period.

“The latest research programme shows that the proposed reopening of the Challenger Plateau orange roughy fishery with a conservative catch limit would be sustainable’ Mr Lockwood said.

The orange roughy fishery on the Chatham Rise, an area between the South and Chatham Islands, is showing an ongoing decrease in fish numbers. A rebuilding strategy with a three year phased reduction in catches in place for the past two years.

“Significant catch reductions are proposed but we will be carefully monitoring the fishery to make sure these reductions will be effective, if they aren’t we will take further action” Mr Lockwood said.

Only eight per cent of New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone has ever been bottom trawled. 17 areas have been closed to bottom trawling, providing protection to an area of seafloor equal to 1.2 million square kilometres, or an area four times the landmass of New Zealand. These are amongst the largest closures of their type anywhere in the world.

The Ministry’s proposals are available on the Ministry of Fisheries website and are open for public submissions until Wednesday 4 August.