In 2008 a United Nation’s panel of international experts reviewed fisheries management in 53 countries. Their report, Safe Conduct? Twelve years fishing under the UN Code, rated New Zealand at 8/53, below South Africa and above Japan, but not world-leading by any stretch.
The report argues that New Zealand, like many countries, is not meeting its obligations to comply with the UN’s Code of Responsible Fishing, only rating around 50 percent.
This panel noted that most countries have taken almost no concerted or effective action on irresponsible fishing in terms of discards, juvenile mortality, bycatch and environmentally harmful fishing methods. They were surprised that New Zealand appears to have no published estimates of discards.
A 2009 Marine Policy report conservatively estimated New Zealand’s bycatch rate, including discards, at 24.6 percent of total catch – 122,262 tonnes of bycatch from an average annual catch of 497,000t between 2000 and 2003.
MFish can crow about various publications that rank their property rights-based quota management system better than other, poorly-performing regimes worldwide, but the Ministry’s failure to recognise these authoritative reports is an example of spin doctoring - only feeding the public information that makes MFish look good.