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Fisheries NZ proposals on fisheries habitat not up to the job

17 November 2022

The Environmental Defence Society has lodged its submission on the Fisheries NZ proposals for Guidelines and Operational Proposals on habitat of particular significance for fisheries management and says the proposals won’t work.

“The requirement to protect habitat of significance to fisheries management has been in the legislation for 26 years, so it’s good to finally see some response from government,” said EDS Policy Director Raewyn Peart.

“However, it’s a case of too little and very late.

“First, the habitat definition proposed by Fisheries NZ is overly narrow, meaning that many important habitats needing protection are missed out.

“Secondly, EDS has serious concerns about the independence of the process for identifying habitats. Fisheries NZ is to have final sign off, after review by fisheries science working groups which have industry representatives on them. This means that vested interests can influence the outcome.

“We propose instead a separate body composed of independent marine scientists and mātauranga Māori experts determining which habitats merit protection. Such decisions should be based on the evidence and not be subject to sector interference.

“There are also no actual proposals to protect important habitats, only to identify them.

“The state of the environment report on our marine environment, released just last month, highlighted the dramatic reduction in the extent and condition of most biogenic habitats in Aotearoa New Zealand including intertidal areas, subtidal areas and seamounts.

“Fishing is a major contributor to this decline. So the lack of proactive measures to protect important habitats from damaging fishing practices is highly concerning.

“There is a legal obligation under the Fisheries Act to protect these habitats and Fisheries NZ needs to get on with the job and comply with the law without delay,” concluded Ms Peart.

Read the EDS submission here