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Cheap Imports Threaten New Zealand's Fisheries

NEW ZEALAND - New rules which allow the import of frozen fillets of Vietnamese catfish or basa, a cheap species farmed in the Mekong Delta, is causing concern for New Zealand's domestic industry.

The move has raised concerns about health and the impact on the New Zealand fishing industry, and renewed debate on the need for compulsory country-of-origin labelling on food, reports The New Zealand Herald.

Basa imports were approved by MAF Biosecurity in the name of free trade and came into force on March 20.

Andrew Talley, of Talley's food group that campaigned against the change, said the fish is grown in the "most putrid and polluted waters anywhere in the world".

"It's harvested with slave labour, with no environmental regulations and no health and safety regulations, which enables them to produce a product at about a third of the cost of New Zealand product."

New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen president Doug Saunders-Loder feared consumers would choose lower-quality fish because it was cheaper and said it was "ludicrous" to increase competition for Kiwi companies during a recession.

the Fish Site Editor

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