Greenpeace is renewing its call for a full and independent inquiry into New Zealand’s Fisheries Management System after releasing yet another leaked internal Government report, this time showing industrial scale under-reporting of fish in the southern blue whiting fishery.
The latest leaked report comes just a few days after Greenpeace released a leaked Government compliance investigation into the hoki fishery, which exposed widespread fish dumping and under reporting.
The new leaked report into the southern blue whiting fishery – produced by the compliance division of the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) in 2012 – shows a similar pattern of under-reporting and dumping of fish.
Greenpeace Executive Director, Dr Russel Norman, says like the last report, it’s at odds with the MPI PR about fishing industry practises.
“We were shocked by the report into the hoki fishery we received last week, which revealed thousands and thousands of tonnes of hoki had been made to disappear. Now, we can see that exactly the same thing has happened with our southern blue whiting fishery,” he says.
“What it means is that far more fish have been caught than reported under New Zealand’s Quota Management System, resulting in millions of dollars in savings for fishing companies as they didn’t need to purchase quota for the disappeared fish. The result is that no-one really knows exactly how much fish has been taken.
“Fishing companies have powerful financial incentives to illegally under-report catch and dump low value fish under the Quota Management System, and the only risk for the companies is if they are caught and prosecuted. We can see through these reports that MPI has caught them in the act, but failed to prosecute. Until the Government forces MPI to enforce the law, these practises will continue to be widespread and standard because the system incentivises illegal under-reporting.
And just like with the hoki report, under the Official Information Act MPI has only released an 11 page version of the leaked 53 page report into the southern blue whiting fishery – and one that left out all the important parts, including the critical 26 recommendations made by the compliance team.
Norman says given past experience with MPI, it’s doubtful that many of these recommendations were ever implemented.
“MPI is captured by the fishing industry. We need an independent public inquiry into the Fisheries Management System and its regulator. Right now, MPI and the seafood industry are trying to prevent this independent inquiry and are instead pushing for an internal MPI review, but this further leaked report shows once again why that must not happen.
“MPI simply cannot be trusted to tell the truth or regulate the industry. Just last year when they didn’t prosecute anyone after their own video cameras exposed widespread fish dumping in the inshore fishery, MPI claimed the decision not to prosecute was due to legal advice. But it turned out that legal advice did not exist. MPI simply didn’t tell the truth.”
The leaked compliance risk profile report can be downloaded at http://greenpeace.nz/leaked-sbw-fishery-report
Some notes from “2012 Compliance Risk Profile of the Sub-Antarctic Southern Blue Whiting Fisheries” (dated December 2013) by the Ministry of Primary Industries Compliance and Response Branch.
This report was based largely on an operation carried out by the investigations team at Ministry of Primary Industries, Operation Trois (August to October 2012).
Key findings include:
- Carton weights: 56% of trips examined had underweight cartons; 44% adequate [p.25].
- Of the 16 landings examined by fisheries officers over the course of three months, underweight cartons added up to 151 tonnes of under-reporting. There were an additional 6 landings that were not examined, so it’s likely to be higher [p.26].
- These underweight cartons were broken down by fishing company:
- Amaltal 14 tonnes under-reported
- Independent 54 tonnes under-reported
- Maruha 34 tonnes under-reported
- Sanford 6 tonnes under-reported
- Sealord 43 tonnes under-reported [p.26].
- Under-reporting of catch, linked to the way fish were processed on board, was estimated by the Fisheries Officers at up to 2678 tonnes [p.37].
- Large amount of effort in this fishery was bottom trawling. [p.20]
- Catching too much fish and leaving it in the net for extended periods was common – causes damage to fish [p.21].