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Non-complying Hoki fishery may lose certification

Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand

20th June 2004

Audit reports reveal that the New Zealand hoki fishery may lose its sustainability certification because it is not complying with its requirements.

Two reports for the UK based Marine Stewardship Council dated 8 June and 5 May 2004 examine ongoing non-compliance and threaten withdrawal of certification if problems are not fixed before the end of the year.

"It's a sad indictment of the fishing industry, that New Zealand's only certified sustainable fishery is in danger of losing its certification because it clearly is not ecologically sustainable," said Forest and Bird's Senior Researcher, Barry Weeber.

"Forest and Bird opposed certification of the hoki fishery because it was obvious that catches were unsustainable and it killed too many seals," he said.

When the hoki fishery was first certified in 2001 the annual allowable commercial catch was 250,000 tonnes, which was reduced the following year to 220,000 tonnes. Last year the industry could only catch 150,000 tonnes, despite having an allowable catch limit of 180,000 tonnes.

"This year's catch is likely to be set around 100,000 tonnes, which will represent a 60% reduction in just 4 years.” Mr. Weeber said. "Hoki's sustainability certification is a sad joke."

According to the May report, measures to reduce the by-kill of protected seals in the hoki fishery have not yet been put into the Hoki Fisheries Management Company's code of practice. The Company has now been given until 30 November 2004 to comply.

The May report revealed that the Hoki Fisheries Management Company was supposed to have implemented measures to reduce the by-kill of seals by last November but had been given an extra year. The report warned that failure to meet the current deadlines "will lead to the process of MSC suspension."

"The Marine Stewardship Council's lack of action to force the Hoki Fisheries Management Company to comply with the requirements of a sustainable fishery is a disgrace.” Mr Weeber said. "The sorry saga of the hoki certification calls into question the whole basis of their international sustainable fishery certification process."

Following the highly critical May report, a further report in June identified that some progress had been made by the Hoki Fisheries Management Company, but warned that the Company's non-compliance with the requirements of a sustainable fishery had to be met on schedule for the certification to be maintained.

Contact: Barry Weeber, Senior Researcher 04 385 7374, 021 627