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Roadshow highlights industry collaboration and support

Friday 1 February 2019

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash joined a Seafood NZ roadshow around the country's ports in Napier yesterday.

In an at times robust exchange with local fishermen he defended a proposed 20 percent cut in the area's tarakihi quota, saying he had listened to industry representations and had resisted calls for larger cuts from his officials.

Star Fish director Andy Claudatos said he would not have invested in a new boat, Christmas Creek bought from Sanford and renamed Nereus after a Greek sea god, if he had known a quota cut was coming.

He said the science needed to catch up with the stock, that fisheries had rebuilt and there was plenty of fish in the Bay.

He had to leave hundreds of tonnes uncaught because of an imbalance between species.

In a mixed fishery it was not possible to simply target one species.

Star Fish has forwarded a rebuild strategy to the Minister's office to ward off even larger cuts that includes excluded areas, net trials and more scientific trawl surveys.

The last trawl survey was about 15-20 years ago, targeted snapper and was at the wrong time of the year, Claudatos said.

The meeting at the East Pier Hotel was convened by Seafood NZ to update on industry issues, including the Promise campaign to lift reputation and build public trust in the sector.

Nash agreed with the aim to ensure all New Zealanders value and support the seafood industry.

"There's some negative publicity out there that is not good for the fishing industry," he said.

"The Promise wants to counter that and say, hey, you know what?, this isn't an industry full of rogues and pirates who are out there plundering and pillaging. They're actually good, hard working men and women who are doing the right thing."

He said New Zealand seafood was the best in the world for a number of reasons.

"First we have the Quota Management System which means that all our seafood is sustainably caught.

"Look at our waters, unpolluted. This is as good as it gets around the world.

"Thirdly, the men and women who are part of our industry care about this absolutely."

Seafood processing provides 238 jobs and contributes $84 million to the Hawke's Bay economy, according to BERL research commissioned by Fisheries Inshore NZ.

The wider area 2 fishery on the North Island east coast from Gisborne south adds 615 jobs in the catching sector and an additional $235 million. 

The sector supports more than 13,000 jobs throughout the country, predominantly in the regions, and provides healthy, delicious food.

The science shows the fishery is in strong shape – 97 percent of the commercial catch comes from sustainably managed fish stocks according to Ministry for Primary Industries scientists.

However, it is not enough to perform well economically.

We must be publicly perceived as meeting high social and environmental standards.

We invite the industry’s detractors to recognise the genuine efforts being made and work with us.

That is a lot harder than throwing stones but will ultimately be more effective.

After all, we all want the same thing – a sustainable fishery.

Today the roadshow is in Gisborne where Mayor Meng Foon will speak on the importance of the fishing industry to the local economy in a midday meeting at the Emerald Hotel.

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