Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
A long-awaited science report into New Zealand’s commercial fisheries has highlighted a lack of data on the ocean is one of the key problems with managing it, admitting we still know “frighteningly little” about a space we take so much from.
Greenpeace says in the case of large data gaps, we must act with caution to protect ocean life, and ensure we don’t destroy what’s left.
Jessica Desmond, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace, says it’s time for the Government to lead on this issue, and put urgent cautionary measures in place for a healthier ocean.
“We don’t have enough data or enough transparency around the fishing industry to manage it properly, the science advisor is right that we’re in the dark on the true state of our marine environment,” she says.
“And what do you do when you don’t have all the info? You act with caution. It’s like driving in a blizzard – you slow right down or stop, you take evasive action to avoid the biggest risks, you watch extra carefully because your view is obscured.
“What we do know is the ocean is in decline, we can see the impacts of destructive fishing and overfishing from what information we do have, and report after report tell us we need to reduce the fishing pressure on the sea.”
There are also several instances of commercial fishing violating the existing protections that are in place to protect Tarakihi from overfishing. Desmond says this is yet another example of why asking the commercial fishing sector to take voluntary action is fundamentally flawed.
“How many examples does the Government need before they step in? It is their job to set the rules, regulate industry, and protect the ocean for all New Zealanders. The time for the softly-softly approach is over. The ocean cannot wait.”
She adds that the recommendations proposed in the report don’t go nearly far enough.
“While the report is primarily about data, there are some management recommendations for the Government to consider, but these are far too weak. If we are going to have any ocean life left to protect by the time we are finished gathering all this data, we need the Government to act to safeguard the marine environment now.”
Desmond also points to the report panel, co-chaired by the seafood industry lobbying group, Seafood NZ, and primarily composed of members with fishing industry ties.
“Voices acting as advocates for the environment first, rather than commercial fishing, were sorely missing from the report – and it is evident in the output.”