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Saturday, August 8

Fishing and environmental groups join forces to fight for fisheries future

Environmental and non-commercial fishing groups have put aside their differences and formed an unprecedented alliance to combat the decline of fish stocks and marine ecosystems in New Zealand.

The groups include the NZ Recreational Fishing Council, the NZ Big Game Fishing Council, option4, the Hokianga Accord, Forest & Bird, Greenpeace and ECO.

They are all concerned about the decline of many fish stocks in New Zealand waters, and are calling on Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley to take urgent action to return the marine environment and fisheries to good health.

This week they met Mr Heatley to ask him to take a more holistic and cautious fisheries management approach.

The groups are troubled by the Government’s strategic vision for fisheries – Fisheries 2030 – which Mr Heatley is considering now.

“It ignores recreational and customary fishing and the environment,” says New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council president Geoff Rowling. “It seems to be about deregulation and putting money in the pockets of the commercial sector.”

Fishing advocate group option4 spokesperson Trish Rea says we must protect fisheries for current and future generations of Kiwis. “It is scandalous the Ministry of Fisheries is allowing the wholesale slaughter of coastal fisheries when most people want more abundant fisheries and a healthier marine environment.”

Forest & Bird marine conservation advocate Kirstie Knowles is concerned about destructive fishing methods, such as bottom trawling, that have a huge impact on the entire marine environment.

“It is crucial that we recognise the bigger picture and take action now to ensure our fisheries are managed without harming the environment, our wildlife, other industries and interests,” she says.

The alliance is calling for urgent action to restore our oceans to a healthy and abundant state, with more fish in the water

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