Seafood New Zealand Friday Update 12 February 2016



Friday Update is Seafood New Zealand's weekly email from our Chief Executive.

Captain's Blog



February 12, 2016


Gross overfishing claims with no scientific evidence

   An alarmist report that alleged in its draft form that New Zealand fish catches are as much as double those reported is due for release.
   The study, strong on anecdote and weak on scientific data and analysis, is led by Auckland University academic Dr Glenn Simmons.
   It is part of a Sea Around Us project, a collaboration between the University of British Columbia and Pew Charitable Trusts, that seeks to verify the catch data across 180 countries for the 61 years from 1950 to 2010.
   The international project is led by marine biologist Dr Daniel Pauly, who has predicted the collapse of commercial fishing by mid century.
   He estimates catches are under-reported by 100-500 percent in many developing countries and by 30-50 percent in developed ones.
   It is understood Dr Pauly will visit New Zealand in early March, presumably coinciding with release of the final version of the New Zealand report.
   The preliminary report was published a year ago. It claimed the actual New Zealand catch from 1950 was 40.4 million tonnes, 2.9 times the 14 million tonnes reported to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.
   Since 1986 when the Quota Management System was introduced, the total catch was “conservatively estimated at 2.2 times greater than the FAO data”.
   The seafood industry took exception to the report, which it saw as lacking credibility and doing a disservice to our internationally recognised, sustainably managed fishing industry.
    Those concerns were put directly to Dr Simmons and colleagues in a meeting at Auckland University last August.
    A critique of the preliminary report plus catch data and analysis from MPI and NIWA, including discards and bycatch, were also supplied.
    A difficulty in dealing with the report was that it was so lacking in detail it was virtually impossible to assess the methodology used to arrive at the alleged catch figures.
   Rather than adopting cool, scientific analysis consistent with other country studies, it opted for an inflammatory and provocative tone, suggesting a clear anti-fishing bias.
   Amongst other comments the report alleged “deliberate, widespread and systematic under reporting of commercial catch”.
   Deliberate? Widespread? Systematic? Those are extremely serious allegations that demand proof. 
   The final report will hopefully be more considered.
   Where there is agreement is that the FAO figures do understate the actual catch to the extent they do not record discards, illegal fishing or recreational or customary catches.
    The recreational catch in New Zealand is estimated at 550,000 tonnes over the study period but is dismissed as “insignificant”.
   Internationally, a number of respected scientists have taken issue with the Sea Around Us approach, saying its “wild assumptions” potentially undermine public confidence in fisheries management.
   The University of Washington’s Prof Ray Hilborn said Pew and others fail to recognise the enormous strides made by fisheries managers in creating sustainable stocks. Many species that are under effective management have recovered to high levels, fully comparable to those before industrial fishing, he said.
  The approach that the only way to preserve fish stocks is to shut down fishing is wrong.
   “What the authors claim, and numerous media have taken up, is the cry that their results show that world fish stocks are in worse shape than we thought,” Prof Hilborn said.
   “This is absolutely wrong. We know that fish stocks are stable in some places, increasing in others and declining in yet others. We need to move beyond trying to understand the historical fish catches and instead concentrate on understanding the status of fish stocks at present.”
  The claim in the preliminary report that the New Zealand fishing catch is at least 2.2 times that reported to the FAO defies logic.
   On annual catch of about 600,000 tonnes that means another 720,000 tonnes, minus the recreational catch, is being illegally landed or is floating somewhere on our seas.
  And this is a “conservative estimate”, according to the researchers.
  It gives rise to a number of questions.
  Where is the catching capacity for such a volume of fish? How come the observers on board the deepwater fleet, where the bulk of fish are caught, have not noticed such gross overfishing?
  Where is the scientific evidence for such a claim?
  And whose credibility is more at stake – the fishing industry’s or that of activist academics?

- Tim Pankhurst




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In the Media



Lintbells sets up research operation in Marlborough

Stuff (February 10) reported on UK pet health company Lintbells setting up a research and development operation in Marlborough to study health benefits of Greenshell Mussels™ and other natural extracts from New Zealand. The report said last year Lintbells founders John Davies and Dr John Howie visited Marlborough, where the company had been sourcing mussels for use in its products since 2009. The operation is expected to bring more jobs to the region. Read more



Aquaculture Direct director Bruce Cardwell is working for Lintbells to research health benefits of mussels in Marlborough. Photo: Derek Flynn/Fairfax.




Havelock Mussel & Seafood Festival

Saturday, March 19 
Expect a wide range of seafood (though we have been told the Marlborough Greenshell Mussel™ will remain the star of the show), entertaining live acts and competitions this year, including the Kono NZ Mussel Opening. Celebrity chef Michael Van de Elzen will showcase the full line-up of local seafood in a cooking demonstration. And for the first time this year, food stalls will recommend wine and beer matches too. Ticket prices have been reduced for 2016. 
Kids under 12 to be admitted free (with an accompanying adult).
Buy tickets
Full programme



Have your say in MPA legislation

The Ministry for the Environment has organised several public events and hui throughout the country to provide more information about the proposed reforms to the management of marine protected areas. Please note hui with iwi/Maori will be run in tandem with the consultation on fresh water and the Ture Whenua Māori Act review. 
Submissions close 5 pm, March 11.
Click here for list of events/hui
Click here to make a submission




Marlborough Marine Futures
First Forum

Sunday, February 28, 9.30 am to 1 pm
Port Marlborough Pavilion, 181 Waikawa Road, Picton.

The First 2016 Forum for Marlborough Marine Futures will explore how Marlborough citizens and stakeholders should respond to Government initiatives to change how marine protected areas are made and managed and its proposal for a recreational fishing park in the Marlborough Sounds. 
Marlborough Marine Futures says they want a strong Marlborough voice to be heard by the Ministers. The forum will provide an opportunity for all sectors to express their views on what is proposed. The Marlborough Sounds integrated Management Trust will use the forum's findings to compile its own submission to Ministers.
All groups are encouraged to make their own submissions and to share them through the Marlborough Marine Futures website. Lunch will be provided after the meeting for those who stay. 
Email to register.