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Seafood industry continues to reduce its environmental impact

Thursday 27 October 2016

Releasing the Our Marine Environment 2016 report Secretary for the Environment Vicky Robertson said changes in fishing practices in recent years have alleviated pressures on the marine environment.

“There have been some significant decreases in this area we expect are mostly due to the uptake of mitigation measures such as bird scaring and sea lion exclusion devices,” Ms Robertson said.

“The number of seabirds caught by commercial fishing bycatch almost halved from around 9,000 in 2003 to 5,000 in 2013.”

Seafood New Zealand Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst says the industry’s efforts to reduce its impact are paying off.

“All of the indicators show the seafood industry’s comprehensive strategies to reduce its impact on the environment are working to ensure that the fish and other marine life are there for future generations of New Zealanders to enjoy,” Mr Pankhurst said.

“Industry has worked hard to reduce bycatch in recent years. The report notes that the drop is likely due in part to mitigation measures, such as bird scaring devices on fishing vessels.

“It’s pleasing that the report notes that dolphins bycatch has decreased over the last decade as has fur seal bycatch. As with seabirds, the report notes that these decreases are thought to be partly due to increased use of mitigation measures."

The report also noted the industry’s falling impact on the sea floor – the number of trawl tows decreased by half between 1997 and 2014.

Acidification and rising sea levels also featured prominently in the report.

“As the report notes, global greenhouse gas emissions causing ocean acidification and warming is a major concern for us all.”

The seafood industry also plays a significant role in the economy providing employment for over 47,000 people, a companion report released today by Statistics New Zealand said.

The report, New Zealand Marine Economy 2007-13, showed that fisheries and aquaculture contributed 22 per cent of the marine economy, which accounts for 1.9 per cent of the total gross domestic product (GDP).

“The seafood industry, is one of the country’s top export earners reaching $1.8 billion this year and what this report confirms it is that is a significant source of employment,” Mr Pankhurst said.

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