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Kuntzsch: Single focus on fisheries a positive

Monday 18 December 2017

Sanford is feeling positive about the return to a ministry that is focused specifically on fisheries in New Zealand. 

We think the early signs from the new minister are good.  The decision to delay the implementation of electronic monitoring is very sensible.  We are keen to increase transparency in the fishing business and we already have cameras on many of our vessels, but the introduction of electronic monitoring needs to be done in the right way so that the tools are the best available and the cost for smaller operators is not prohibitive. We don’t want to reinvent the wheel, given that excellent technology already exists.

A dedicated ministry is a great first step, but I would personally like to see even more.  My view is that New Zealand deserves a Ministry for the Oceans which could take a “mountains to the sea” approach to ensure that every decision we make on land takes into account the health of the oceans around us.  Having said that, what we have now with the new minister feels like a good start.

So with that hope in the background, what are the priorities we hope to see this new ministry adopt in the short term? 

At Sanford the issues that are top of mind are sustainability, collaboration and innovation.  These are not just fashionable buzzwords to us.  It is my strongly held view that it is a privilege to be able to fish in this beautiful country and that providing people with a sustainable source of healthy protein is a noble purpose and one we should be proud of.  But fishing is controversial, partly because, despite our best efforts, it is a sector that is not well understood. 

The answer to this is, I believe, to take the emotion out of all our decision making and to find common ground by always having science at the table.  So it is our hope that the new ministry will prioritise science-led thinking and decision-making with a multi-stakeholder approach.  This in turn, we hope, will create a deeper knowledge base around the impact of fishing, including of recreational fishing and it is very important that recreational fishing is at the table in this multi-stakeholder approach.

We also believe that if Labour follows through on its excellent fishing policy, everyone will benefit.  It would be ideal if the new minister could also consider whether the large amount of money the industry spent on compliance and management could be spent more efficiently, taking into account the wider ecosystem.

In short, we hope the new ministry will want to support and encourage innovation, backing smart fishing and aquaculture with a focus on sustainable wealth creation.

- Sanford chief executive Volker Kuntzsch

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