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Positive start to Code of Conduct roadshow

Friday 16 February 2018

The seafood roadshow, or more correctly portshow, is in Greymouth today.

That follows a successful launch in Nelson last week of a programme aimed at improving environmental care and transparency at sea.

A six-point Code of Conduct has been developed and endorsed by the major fishing companies. Individual skippers are now being asked to sign up to it.

That code underpins the Promise media campaign launched last year.

That was a promise to all New Zealanders to fish sustainably and to care for the marine environment for generations to come.

Associated videos on the Seafood NZ website highlight the ongoing investment in research and innovations such as Precision Seafood Harvesting that returns undersized and non-quota species alive to the sea and the Acoustic Optical System that identifies fish on the ocean floor and provides more accurate stock assessments and reduces bycatch.

They also feature the stories of the real men and women of the seafood industry, the passion they have for a challenging lifestyle and the efforts being made to protect endangered species.

Fisherman Sunni Parkin, a leading hand on Mako, was among those to attend the Nelson meeting.

He said he had seen a more conscientious approach in terms of seabird management plans and in health and safety in recent times but the negative impact from any fishing transgressions was frustrating.

“Everyone keeps getting tarred with the same brush.”

He said there was a commitment to doing the right thing, although it would ultimately fall to the operators to ensure all aspects of the code were being met.

“It’s all pretty basic if you follow the law and the rules laid out.”

While there is concern about the odd operator who may bring the wider industry into disrepute, the vast majority are acting responsibly and are keen to make improvements where possible.

It is recognised internationally that New Zealand has one of the worlds best-managed fisheries built on decades of peer-reviewed scientific assessment and compliance activity.

Stocks are healthy, the fishery is sustainable.

However, that is not the widespread public perception.

The anti-commercial fishing lobby is well funded and relentless in its condemnation of the seafood industry, despite it providing employment for thousands of New Zealanders, boosting our standard of living through nearly $2billion in exports and producing healthy, delicious protein that is in high demand.

The seafood industry has much to be proud of but it is also squaring up to its shortcomings, has conceded it has not always got it right and is determined to do better.

It recognises it does have an impact on the marine environment, just as farming and forestry do on land, and is committed to minimising that.

Seafood NZ executive chair Craig Ellison gave an honest appraisal at the 2017 annual conference in terms of public perceptions and where improvements were needed, following the Promise campaign launch.

While he praised efforts to increase transparency and actively minimise any negative impact, he accepted more work was required to improve the response to illegal behaviour, as well as the industry’s ability to look after its people and treat them fairly.

The report card will be reviewed at this year’s conference at Te Papa in August.

Today’s meeting is at Greymouth’s Kingsgate Hotel and all West Coast fishermen, processors and related industries are welcome.

 

OUR PROMISE IN PRACTICE
Our Code of Conduct

We do not condone illegal behaviour.

We will work with Government and other interested parties to develop and implement principled and practical policies to ensure the use of fisheries resources is sustainable.

We will continue to actively minimise our impacts on the marine environment and encourage others to act similarly.

We will continue to invest in science and innovation to enhance fisheries resources and add value.

We look after our people and treat them fairly.

We will be accountable for delivering on Our Promise and will support increased transparency.

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