The Government should step up its efforts to monitor illegal fishing in Antarctica's Southern Ocean rather than pull them back, Green Party fishing spokesperson Steffan Browning said today.
Mr Browning was responding to news that the Government may not be able to monitor illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean because its ships are not up to the task. New Zealand is a member of The Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, "As a CCAMLR Member, New Zealand has a responsibility to carry out surveillance against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the CCAMLR Area, and to monitor licensed vessels' compliance with CCAMLR Conservation Measures."
"We have an international obligation to monitor illegal fishing and compliance with the CCAMLR's conservation measures," said Mr Browning.
"We should be increasing our monitoring, not scaling it back. There is no justification for doing less to protect fish stocks at this critical point in time.
"Illegal fishing is a serious problem in the Southern Ocean so monitoring is of the utmost importance.
"The Government is in favour of greater protection for the Southern Ocean with its proposal for the establishment of a Ross Sea region marine protected area, yet it may not be sending navy boats to ensure the existing protections are effective.
"Mr McCully himself has said the detection of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing vessels in the Southern Ocean was of grave concern to New Zealand.
"Minister McCully must follow through by ensuring New Zealand navy boats are able to perform this very important function," said Mr Browning.