Prime Minister Must Be Fishing In Some Other Ocean

Press release - May 6, 2009
Government claims today that New Zealand's oceans are "teeming with fish" and that the quota management system (QMS) is working are rubbish, says Greenpeace (1).

While Stocks Last

The environmental organisation, which today released the report While Stocks Last: Supermarkets and the Future of Seafood (2), is also critical of today's announcement that more New Zealand fisheries are being assessed for the Marine Stewardship Council's so-called blue tick eco-label, saying that some species like hoki which carry the label are not sustainably managed (3).

Greenpeace is calling on New Zealand supermarkets to stop stocking seafood that isn't sustainably managed in the wake of similar moves by supermarkets in Europe and the United States, where New Zealand caught species such as orange roughy have been taken off the shelves (4).

Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner Karli Thomas says that the fact that three of New Zealand's eight orange roughy fisheries have collapsed under the QMS shows that it is failing. Orange roughy stocks have been fished to as low as three per cent of their natural levels in some areas, and even some stocks of snapper have been fished down to around 10 per cent.

"Prime Minister John Key's statement to the fishing industry this morning that New Zealand's oceans are teeming with fish and that the quota management system is sustainably managing New Zealand's fisheries is rubbish. You have to wonder what planet he's on and what ocean he's fishing in," she said.

"Supermarkets in Europe and the United States know that our quota management system is no guarantee of sustainability, and it's time that New Zealand supermarkets recognised this too."

Greenpeace today offered lunchtime shoppers in central Auckland a chance to try gourmet jellyfish meals, because that could be the only type of seafood left if current unsustainable fishing practices continue.

Supermarket chief executives Peter Smith (Progressive Enterprises) and Tony Carter (Foodstuffs) were invited to lunch at the temporary upmarket Jellyfish du Jour Café in Auckland's Queen Elizabeth II Square, but didn't take up the offer.

Greenpeace says that New Zealand supermarkets have a responsibility to their customers to stock only sustainably managed seafood.

"Hiding behind inadequate schemes like the quota management system and the Marine Stewardship Council blue tick is simply not good enough," Karli Thomas said.

"New Zealand shoppers have the right to know what they are buying, where it comes from and how it was caught. Supermarkets have a responsibility to assure their customers that the seafood they sell is sustainable, and they must start by taking species in dire trouble - like orange roughy - off their shelves."


Other contacts: Greenpeace New Zealand Oceans Campaigner Karli Thomas 021 905 582 Communications Manager Suzette Jackson on 021 614 899

VVPR info: High res pics are available from: For footage, please contact Suzette Jackson, Communications Manager on the number above.

Notes: (1) In a speech to the 2009 Seafood Industry Conference in Wellington today, Prime Minister John Key said: "Our oceans are teeming with fish. Our world-leading quota management system and the sustainable way that the seafood industry manages this great resource is a tremendous achievement." (2) The report 'While stocks last - Supermarkets and the future of seafood' is also available online at: (3) The fishing industry today announced that hake, ling, southern blue whiting, albacore tune and the Challenger scallop fisheries are being assessed to carry the Marine Stewardship Council blue tick. New Zealand's hoki fishery already carries the tick, despite the fact that the species is classified as having "high vulnerability", stocks have declined dramatically, the hoki fishery involves destructive fishing techniques and kills hundreds of seabirds and fur seals each year. An independent panel of experts has said that the New Zealand hoki fishery did not merit its sustainability tick. (4) Supermarkets that are no longer selling orange roughy, or have made a commitment to stop selling it, are Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and Sainsbury's in Britain, and Whole Foods Market, Ahold and The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company in the United States.