Articles, Inquiry, Media Releases / 24 May 2018

What more proof is needed before government acts?

We’ve seen the Heron Report on failures in our fishing industry, the Achilles and Hippocamp reports paint a devastating picture of the Ministry of Primary Industries working hand in glove with industry to avoid accountability, more recently we’ve seen the decimation of our crayfish stocks and now we’re told MPI and industry have been fudging the numbers in the hoki fisheries.

Stuart Nash, Minister of Fisheries

Minister, what more proof do you need?

The time to act is now. LegaSea and recreational fishers of New Zealand are urging the Minister to act before it’s all too late.

LegaSea spokesman Scott Macindoe says the incoming government promised to reform MPI but instead we have the same people in the same jobs with no real change to the outcomes.

“A public resource is being squandered by private operators for large commercial gains and the ministry is not only turning a blind eye, it’s actively involved in working with the industry against the interests of New Zealanders. It’s a travesty and this Minister must act.”

LegaSea has been calling for a full Commission of Inquiry into the way our fisheries are managed, and this latest round of evidence is another nail in the coffin of the lie that is our “world-class fisheries management system”.

“The Quota Management System is not fit for purpose. It encourages commercial entities to fish to the edge of extinction and beyond, and the watchdog that is supposed to work to protect New Zealand fisheries instead works to ensure maximum profitability for these industrial-scale fishers.”

The latest reports are dated from 2012 and would remain secret if not for leaks to Greenpeace which, this morning, reiterated LegaSea’s calls for action.

“The culture of secrecy at MPI, now Fisheries New Zealand, has got to go. No change will take place until that culture is addressed and the only person who can do that is Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash. We are calling on the Minster to follow the law and do what is right, for the fisheries, for New Zealand and for the future generations who will one day hold us accountable for destroying their heritage.”

ENDS

 

TIMELINE OF EVENTS

May 2018

A major investigation into the fishing industry by Stuff’s investigation team reveals an industry rife with “modern day slavery”.

A leaked report reveals some of the country’s largest fishing concerns have been under-reporting their catch of hoki by hundreds of tonnes.

April 2018

The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) releases a report into the destruction of marine bird life and mammals by commercial fishing interests.

March 2018

The Minister of Fisheries announces a reduction in the number of crayfish that can be taken from the CRA2 region.

December 2017

The government announced changes to the structure of the Ministry for Primary Industries(MPI) which sees the creation of four separate divisions, one of which will oversee Fisheries.

September 2017

The report on cameras on fishing boats, dismissed by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy, had been described as “robust” by a top ministry science advisor, emails show.

June 2017

A new leaked MPI report suggests the cameras being installed on boats by the industry-owned business, Trident, won’t have the resolution needed to provide footage able to be used in court.

April 2017

University of Auckland researchers reveal MPI refuses to release information relating to 14 more operations that detail the Ministry’s investigations into reporting and fish dumping.

MPI’s relationship with industry questioned further after it is revealed MPI has outsourced administration and data management for large parts of its daily activity to a company wholly-owned by the fishing industry.

The Ombudsman’s Office has forced MPI to reveal that the legal advice it relied on to avoid prosecuting those industrial fishers filmed dumping fish doesn’t exist and never had.

March 2017

People who dive or fish for crayfish think stocks off the northeast of the North Island are in bad shape, according to a survey.

December 2016

MPI forced to reveal that only four cases of fish dumping have been brought before the courts since 2009.

November 2016

MPI forced to admit that up to 80 percent of the cameras installed on snapper trawlers to police fish dumping failed during their first three months of use. Footage from some vessels has been missing for up to a month.

September 2016

Heron report reveals MPI decision not to prosecute was “flawed”, recommends changes to the way MPI reacts in future. The report also shows MPI was fearful of the reaction by the public and the commercial fishers themselves if they did prosecute.

The report also reveals senior MPI managers believe dumping of fish is so widespread half the inshore trawl fleet would go out of business if the law was enforced.

August 2016

Crayfish numbers are so low they are no longer contributing to the ecology of the Hauraki Gulf and are “functionally extinct” according to a marine scientist.

May 2016

University of Auckland’s catch reconstruction report released. New Zealand’s fishery catch of the last 50 years estimated at 2.7 times more than reported. Report attacked by industry as being misleading.

LegaSea respond to the report calling for an urgent review of the QMS and of MPI’s role in overseeing the fishing industry. EDS call for a wider review of NZ’s fisheries management system.

Government appoints Michael Heron QC to review decision not to prosecute those filmed dumping fish. LegaSea says the Heron review is not enough, only a full review of the QMS will be enough to allay public concerns about Ministry capture by the fishing industry.

The catch reconstruction report also refers to MPI’s own investigators’ concerns about the level of fish dumping for the first time.

MPI awards contract to place cameras on boats to monitor for illegal fish dumping and under-reported catch of protected species to Trident, a company wholly-owned by the fishing industry.

LegaSea questions who is running New Zealand’s fisheries and urges the Minister to establish an independent inquiry with broad terms of reference.

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