New Zealand fisheries chief: "We are not going to run out of fish"

Published on
July 7, 2016

New Zealand fisheries are in good shape and have great future potential, Seafood New Zealand Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst said this week.

The government of New Zealand has set a goal of doubling export returns by 2025, and that the fishery was capable of doing that in a sustainable way, Pankhurst said at the Marine Societies of New Zealand and Australia conference at Victoria University of Wellington on Wednesday, 6 July.

“We have a seafood sector that is in good heart. Our stocks are sustainable – it’s not just the fishing industry saying that, the science supports it, and the world wants what we produce – and aquaculture is expanding,” he said. “We are not going to run out of fish.”

Achieving the government’s target will require adding value to the fish landed by “being ahead of the game in understanding what’s happening in the global marketplace,” Pankhurst said. “We are well on track to achieving that [goal], with seafood exports reaching a record high of NZD 1.8 billion (USD 1.3 billion, EUR 1.2 billion) in the year to April – an 11.4 percent increase on the previous year.”

In his remarks, Pankhurst addressed a report authored by Glenn Simmons of Auckland University’s Business School and headed by Daniel Pauly from the University of British Columbia that claims the country’s catch over the past 60 years has been 2.7 times higher than actually reported.

“The industry has been through some rough water this year, with the release out of Auckland University of a flawed report estimating greatly inflated historical catch that has been uncritically reported. The report’s findings have been disputed by industry and Government and its methodology is still a mystery,” Pankhurst said. “But there is much to celebrate about the Quota Management System, 30 years old this year, which has placed us among the best world’s fisheries management systems. That system, farsighted when it was introduced in 1986, ended the race to fish in favor of property rights over set quota that can be closely monitored.

Pankhurst did acknowledge the potential benefit of better management of bycatch.

“There is no argument from industry that our fisheries management could be further enhanced to meet present and future challenges, including better management of non-target species, he said. “We are keen to enter dialogue with government around this.”

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