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Prime Minister John Key opens the conference

Industry celebrates 30 years of the QMS

Thursday 20 October 2016

Connelly was giving the keynote address at the 2016 New Zealand Seafood Industry Conference.

 He was speaking to a packed conference room at Te Papa of more than 300 attendees – the biggest turnout to the annual conference in recent years.

 The New Zealand seafood industry had high international regard and showed leadership in a number of fishing and seafood related areas and is respected internationally for the quality of its fisheries research and science information, which included rigorous peer review processes, he said.

 It has also overcome its distance from major markets.

 And none of these achievements was at the expense of the marine environment. New Zealand could be proud of its marine resources management. A global study of 53 maritime countries placed New Zealand first for its marine resources management, he said.

 New Zealand’s 30-year-old Quota Management System had led the way by providing a fine balance between utilisation and sustainability to ensure viable fisheries for current and future generations.

The conference was officially opened by Prime Minister John Key, who noted the success of the QMS.

 “By any definition, we can look back at the QMS and say it’s been an overwhelming success.”

One of the underlying features of New Zealand fisheries is that it is a shared resource and that it’s “all about sustainability”. It is a resource that is shared between recreational fishers, iwi and the commercial sector.

 “And we need all three to be able to operate harmoniously together and for the long-term good of New Zealand.”

Speaking about the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, Key said it wasn’t a place “where there’s a lot of fish”. There was very little fishing there because it was a “long way away”

 “Commercially it is not that great a place to fish.” It was a place of “ecological value”.

The real resource wasn’t in fishing because you can catch migratory species outside of that area, he said.

 “The long term sustainability of fisheries is about saying there are some places where we just mark them out as not being a place where we commercially catch fish. I don’t think that in the case of the Kermadecs there’s a great deal at risk there. I think they are far too far away and I don’t think you can catch a lot. I accept there’s debate over that but the Government has to balance a range of different things.”

The aim of the Government’s Marine Protected Areas reform was to recognise the need to provide a balance between economic opportunity, environmental protection and the right for New Zealanders to catch a fish.

 Speaking about the Government’s operational review of fisheries management he said it would not undermine existing rights and interests of commercial, customary and recreational fishers, Treaty settlements or core elements of the QMS.

“Our aim is to increase the value of our exports and to enhance the sustainability of our fisheries. Overall these efforts will provide greater transparency and improve public and market confidence that our fisheries are being well managed.”

 Commenting on the seafood industry’s reputation, he noted that in all industries there will be people who do something wrong, or make mistakes.

“In my view the commercial seafood industry in New Zealand takes its responsibilities very seriously.” He described what as he saw as the risks of the “PR war” being faced by the industry.

 “There are going to be plenty of groups that are going to want to take a different perspective, show you in a different light and turn consumers against you. So Russel Norman has gone out there and told McDonald’s not to buy New Zealand hoki because it’s not sustainable, but personally I don’t think that’s right but that’s what you are up against, but as a sector you have to take all these issues quite seriously and we as a Government have to continue to demonstrate we are taking it seriously.”

After his speech, Key was asked by reporters outside the conference room whether he accepted criticism about the lack of consultation over the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.

“I think there’s a fair point there,” he said.

 Back in the conference, Te Ohu Kaimoana Chairman Jamie Tuuta, who led the session on “The Growth of Maori Fisheries –Where to Next, said the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary expropriates Maori fishing rights.

 “The Maori Fisheries Settlement has become part of the Maori constitution.

 It’s a valuable agreement because fisheries are culturally important and a deal is a deal.”

 Maori always understood that fisheries might rise and fall on the science of sustainability. Where stocks had been under pressure fishing efforts were reduced.

 “We as Maori and as industry are arguing against an ideology. The ideology of biodiversity.”

 It was a pursuit that was culturally and intellectually deficient, he said.

 Two leaders at the forefront of the Maori Fisheries Settlement, Hon Sir Doug Kidd and the founding Chairman of Te Ohu Kaimoana Sir Tipene O’Regan, led the discussion in the Maori fisheries session.

 Sir Tipene said the fact that the sanctuary was announced without any concern for the fundamental Treaty rights ensconced in the fisheries settlement and fundamentally

 contravened different elements of that settlement was “appalling”.

 In the session following the lunch break Sealord Chief Executive Steve Yung made the announcement that Sealord is to make a $70 million investment in its fishing fleet with the purchase of a new state-of-the-art vessel -. the first new vessel for the country’s deepwater fishery in 20 years (see story page 15).The announcement gained wide media attention.

 The afternoon sessions focused on “selling sustainability” from a retailer’s, seafood company and chef’s perspectives as well as presentations on industry reputation and an insight into an upcoming book about the “extraordinary” story of fishing for New Zealand’s orange roughy that included the fisherman’s perspective.

 The day ended with Gone Fishin’s Graeme Sinclair talking about his experience filming Ocean Bounty, a 13-part series showcasing the seafood industry.

 Sinclair was more than convinced of the industry’s sustainable harvesting of seafood as he spoke of the abundance of rock lobster he saw during filming in the CRA8 fishery.

 “It’s a remarkable success story.” The conference ended on a high note by celebrating the industry’s star achievers with the Seafood Stars Awards.


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