Forest and Bird uncover fishing industry 'cover up'

By Raniera Harrison

Forest and Bird say the Commercial Fishing Industry want to stop public access to videos and images of fish being discarded and seabirds being caught by fishing boats because they say it could be bad for NZ's reputation. This follows footage released under the Official Information Act by Forest & Bird of illegal fishing activities A warning some images may offend.

Gruesome images released by Forest and Bird today, a rare Hectors Dolphin illegally being caught by a commercial fisherman.

Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague says the NZ fishing industry is trying to cover up the evidence of what's really going on in our waters.

"The fishing industry is covering literally hundreds of deaths of penguins."

A letter signed by fishing industry leaders was sent to MPI last year. It warns that the planned rollout of video cameras on boats will "raise significant risks for MPI and for 'New Zealand Inc'".

"Last year, there were 14 penguins that were reported of having been killed in the Inshore set net fishery, 13 of those birds were killed on boats that had observers and only 1 occurred in the 97% of the fishing fleet that didn't have observers."

The Minister of Fisheries, Stuart Nash, was unavailable for comment today. However, a response from his office said: "the material released by Forest and Bird pre-dates the appointment of Mr. Nash as Fisheries Minister (26 October 2017) and does, in fact, relate to the previous administration."

"It 's actually more dangerous for the Ministry to sit by on its hands and while some of our most precious species are driven towards extinction."

In a statement to Te Kāea, MPI said it has reviewed the industry's proposal but is yet to make a decision. Te Kāea also contacted Fisheries Inshore New Zealand, one of the signatories of the letter, but they are yet to respond.