Clash over NZ discards claims

A ROW has broken out in New Zealand over claims that 50 million tonnes of fish caught in its waters have been dumped at sea over the past 65 years, while almost six million tonnes were landed but not reported during the same period.
The report, by the Institute of Oceans and Fisheries, estimates discarded catches could be as high as 37 per cent, while the unreported catch is claimed to be around 18 per cent.
‘That means nearly 20 per cent of all fish caught are stolen and over a third are thrown back. The waste is mind boggling,’ said Greenpeace executive director Russell Norman.
However, the claims are being strongly challenged by the industry. Seafood New Zealand chief executive Tim Pankhurst said the report lacked credibility.
‘To base estimates on historical anecdotes, rather than on factual scientific records, does a great disservice to our internationally recognised sustainably managed fisheries,’ he said.
The report, Reconstruction of Marine Fisheries Catches for New Zealand (1950-2010), was written by Dr Glenn Simmons of Auckland University’s Business School.
It is part of an international Sea Around Us study headed by Daniel Pauly from the University of British Columbia, which has funding support from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Pankhurst said: ‘This report, which relies upon anecdotal concerns masquerading as facts, would not meet rigorous independent scientific peer review.
‘The sample is hopelessly biased. It includes interviews with 300 people, none of whom are named, and 200 of whom were crews on foreign chartered vessels complaining about their treatment.’