• John Luxton
Fisheries and Aquaculture

Minister of Fisheries, Hon John Luxton today said that while Greenpeace had obviously been planning their media campaign for some time, they appeared to have forgotten to raise the issue with him. The Minister said he had only just received a letter from Greenpeace today, after their media launch yesterday.

Mr Luxton today said It is always more constructive and useful to discuss any issue up front with the relevant parties rather than through the newspaper or TV.

New Zealand has been concerned about the status of the Southern Bluefin Tuna stock for some time. For this reason, the Government has been co-operating with Japan and Australia in recent years through the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT).

Through this Convention, the catch limit of the three parties has been reduced by nearly 70%. Recent scientific assessments suggest these management actions have averted further stock decline. The CCSBT is also actively working to promote control of catch of southern bluefin tuna by parties fishing on the high seas and outside the constraints of the Convention.

While the CCBST acknowledges that the stock of southern bluefin tuna is currently at a level requiring rebuilding, it does not believe that the available scientific evidence justifies suspension of fishing.

The Government is aware of the recent IUCN listing of southern bluefin tuna. However, the IUCN included a caveat on the listing which recognised that the criteria used may not be appropriate for some species and such species might form the basis of sustainable fisheries.

The Government is actively pursuing the implementation of measures to reduce the incidental capture of seabirds in longline operations both domestically and in international fora.

Domestically, regulations have been promulgated to mandate the use of tori lines. Data from the fishery indicate that tori lines can substantially reduce incidental captures. A significant research programme funded by Government and industry is underway to investigate additional measures such as underwater setting devices.

More... The Government will continue to pursue its interests in the southern bluefin tuna fishery through active involvement in the CCSBT. Our aim is to ensure that management steps are taken to secure the recovery of the stock to protect New Zealands interests, both domestically and internationally, Mr Luxton concluded.