Thanks to political pressure from the Green Party, environmental NGOs and recreational fishers, the Government has changed plans that would have baked into law rules that shut out the public from important fisheries decisions.
“Green Party pressure has helped convince the Government to remove provisions in the Fisheries Amendment Bill that would establish pre-set decision rules. These rules would have limited the public’s ability to comment on significant changes to commercial catch regimes, and risked favouring the interests of commercial fishers over ocean health,” says the Green Party’s spokesperson for oceans and fisheries, Eugenie Sage.
“Fish rely on thriving ecosystems, not a spreadsheet.
“Under the rules initially proposed by the Government, officials would have been able to use a pre-determined framework to make decisions about recreational bag limits and total commercial catch limits.
“Decisions may have been faster under pre-set decision rules but public oversight of decisions would have been reduced. Ministerial accountability is important when there is so little trust in the sector and in the commercial fishing industry.
“We are delighted the Minister changed his mind after hearing from the Green Party and thousands of activists and fishing enthusiasts through the public submission and select committee process.
“Even so, the bill’s changes to the Fisheries Act don’t go far enough, particularly on preventing the bycatch of seabirds, seals, dolphins and other protected species..
“We wanted changes to require the Minister to pay much closer attention to measures to reduce bycatch when deciding how much fish can be caught.
“This is one part of what the Greens would do to manage fisheries based on holistic ecosystem management.
“An ecosystem-based approach would take into account how fisheries interact with the marine ecosystem - rather than considering a single species or issue in isolation.
“It could include restrictions on methods that destroy marine habitats and result in bycatch of seabirds and marine mammals - as well as banning bottom trawling on seamounts.
“The Green Party will continue to push for fisheries management that puts healthy oceans and sustainable fisheries first - and with more Green MPs we can make it happen,” says Eugenie Sage.