What are the facts about Swordfish?
by John Holdsworth
31 July 2006
What are the facts about Swordfish now being in quota, is it 600 tonne? With 500 tonne sold to Australia, is there a petition going around that can be signed saying this quota is far too high? What is being done? What can be done?
Swordfish were introduced to the Quota Management System two years ago. At that time the commercial quota was set at 885 tonnes but most of this quota was held by the government because there was very little commercial catch in the qualifying years (1991 and 1992 as set out in the Fisheries Act).
There has been disputes of how quota should be allocated in the past which often lead to court cases and even public enquiries. Cabinet decided that all Crown Swordfish quota would be put up for tender and in the meantime lease out the catch entitlement, quite cheaply to NZ commercial fishers.
Earlier this year the tender process happened. You have to be a New Zealand person or company to buy fish quota but most of the tender was won by investors, not by fishermen. I have heard that there was Australian money behind some of this, but am not sure how it was structured. I also believe that there is an investigation into some of the dealings which may have broken other rules.
There are far less tuna longline boats working now the large tuna and swordfish are on quota.
In 2004-05 fishing year the commercial catch was 350 tonnes and it may be about the same this year.
The worry is that the new quota owners will want to bring boats in to target swordfish and push the catch up to the 800 tonnes.
I have not heard about a petition or campaign on Swordfish.
Blue Water Marine Research
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