November 22, 2016

Report: NZ seafood sector reduces its environmental impact 

Efforts to cut down the seafood sector’s impact on marine environment is shown to be successful as the number of seabirds caught by commercial fishing in 2013 is close to half the figure seen in 2003.

The New Zealand seafood industry continues to take steps to reduce its impact on the marine environment, a government report released recently said.

Environment Secretary Vicky Robertson, said upon the release of the "Our Marine Environment 2016" report that changes in fishing practices in recent years have alleviated pressures on the marine environment.

"There have been some significant decreases in this area we expect are mostly due to the uptake of mitigation measures such as bird scaring and sea lion exclusion devices," Ms Robertson said.

"The number of seabirds caught by commercial fishing bycatch almost halved from around 9,000 in 2003 to 5,000 in 2013", she added.

Seafood New Zealand Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst says the industry's efforts to reduce its impact are paying off.

'Comprehensive strategies working'

"All of the indicators show the seafood industry's comprehensive strategies to reduce its impact on the environment are working to ensure that the fish and other marine life are there for future generations of New Zealanders to enjoy", Pankhurst said.

"Industry has worked hard to reduce bycatch in recent years. The report notes that the drop is likely due in part to mitigation measures, such as bird scaring devices on fishing vessels.

"It's pleasing that the report notes that dolphins bycatch has decreased over the last decade as has fur seal bycatch. As with seabirds, the report notes that these decreases are thought to be partly due to increased use of mitigation measures."

The seafood industry plays a significant role in the economy providing employment for over 47,000 people, a companion report released by Statistics New Zealand said.

A separate report, "New Zealand Marine Economy 2007-13", showed that fisheries and aquaculture contributed 22% of the marine economy, which accounts for 1.9% of the total gross domestic product (GDP).

"The seafood industry is one of the country's top export earners reaching $1.8 billion this year and what this report confirms is that it is a significant source of employment", Pankhurst said.
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