Sanford: Hold off on hoki quota increase
Eric Barratt, managing director of Sanford Ltd., is again warning the New Zealand government to hold off on raising the country’s 2011-12 hoki quota, asking it to take a “precautionary approach” to managing the western hoki stock until more scientific data is collected and analyzed.
“We see no reason to rush through another increase in the stock when further research work already planned would provide more certainty to justify an increase,” said Barratt in a letter to Phil Heatley, New Zealand’s fisheries and aquaculture minister, on Tuesday.
Two months ago, Heatley declared that New Zealand’s western hoki stock has been rebuilt, thanks to significant catch reductions over the years. As a result, the country is considering raising the 2011-12 quota for the western hoki stock by 10,000 metric tons. A decision is expected around the onset of the country’s fishing season, which runs from 1 October to 30 September.
Last year’s country-wide hoki quota totaled 120,000 metric tons. Hoki became the world’s first major whitefish fishery to gain Marine Stewardship Council sustainability certification in 2001. But the fishery has experienced numerous catch reductions since then, falling from a high of 250,000 metric tons in 2001 to just 89,000 metric tons in 2008.
“There is no doubt that hoki is a valuable year round fishery that New Zealand can take pride in. The fishery has been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council since 2001 and despite a diminishing biomass in the early 2000s the fishery has pulled back and is now rebuilding. In time, the hoki fishery will again be robust enough to support a higher TACC (total allowable commercial catch),” said Barratt in a 9 August letter to Heatley.
“Sanford asks that you hold back announcing TACC increases until the working group and your fisheries managers have had time to consider the survey results timetabled to occur over the next 12 months,” he added.
Sanford is one of New Zealand’s largest fishing and seafood companies.
Click here to view the 8 August market report on hoki, available only to SeafoodSource premium members.