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Hauraki-Coromandel Post - 2021-10-14

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Feedback sought on high-seas rules

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Improving New Zealand’s rules for fishing in international waters outside the exclusive economic zone is the goal under Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) proposals and the government agency wants public input. “New Zealand has a strong interest in maintaining high standards for sustainable fishing in international waters and works together with a range of other countries through international conventions to achieve this,” says MPI director of international policy, Phil Houlding. “We enjoy a good reputation as responsible citizens in international fisheries, and make valued contributions to science and compliance in the Pacific and Southern Oceans. “We need to ensure that our legislation is up to date with evolving international standards, and the international fisheries agreements and management organisations that we are part of. “These proposals would update our existing international fishing rules to make high seas decision-making processes more transparent and set tougher penalties for illegal fishing. This will benefit industry by providing more certainty and ensuring legal operators are not disadvantaged.” He said many fish, mammals and birds which live in New Zealand’s waters spend part of their lives in the high seas. “We want to ensure they are being sustainably managed and protected.” MPI wants feedback on: tightening and clarifying the rules for authorising and revoking fishing permits on the high seas; strengthening the monitoring of New Zealand vessels fishing in other states’ waters; clarifying and strengthening penalties for New Zealand vessels breaking international conventions, including making it an offence to engage in activities prohibited under international commitments, including operating or supporting listed illegal fishing vessels; allowing foreign-flagged vessels suspected of illegal fishing in the high seas to be detained in New Zealand ports for inspection. “These rule changes will help us contribute to the longterm sustainability of international fisheries. In addition, consumers and our trading partners increasingly want to verify the environmental credentials of the people they are doing business with. Our ability to continue to demonstrate that underpins jobs and opportunities in New Zealand.” The consultation runs until November 21. It responds to recommendations of an independent expert review of the Fisheries Act in relation to New Zealand’s international fisheries compliance obligations and related market access requirements.

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