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article imageNew Zealand fisheries study denounced as nonfactual

By Karen Graham     May 16, 2016 in Environment
Seafood New Zealand's chief executive is denouncing a marine fisheries report published in January that claims the country's marine fisheries catch over the past 60 years was double what was reported, saying it lacked credibility.
Chief executive Tim Pankhurst claims the fisheries reconstruction report was not based on factual scientific records and did a great disservice to the country's internationally renowned sustainably managed fisheries, according to Scoop.
He is talking about a report that was part of an international Sea Around Us study headed by Daniel Pauly from the University of British Columbia. The study, Reconstruction of Marine Fisheries Catches for New Zealand (1950-2010), was published in Nature Communications.
The report claims that the global catch of about 109 million metric tons was about 30 percent higher than the 77 million metric tons officially reported in 2010 by more than 200 countries and territories. The report then claims that the unreported 32 million metric tons of fish unreported every year was equal to the weight of the entire population of the United States.
The study says that the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) focus their data collection figures on industrial fishing, largely excluding difficult-to-track categories such as artisanal, subsistence, illegal fishing and the number of discarded fish, which could amount to millions of tons.
“The world is withdrawing from a joint bank account of fish without knowing what has been withdrawn or the remaining balance,” said Pauly. “Better estimating the amount we’re taking out can help ensure there is enough fish to sustain us in the future.”
But New Zealand seems to be taking the report seriously, with Prime Minister John Key saying officials are skeptical of the study that claims more than half the fish caught off new Zealand are not being reported, according to the NZ Herald.
Opposition parties are agreeing with the study's assessment that the quota system needs to undergo a "robust critical review." Labor wants an independent review of the quota system while the Green Party wants more government observers on the ships. According to the study, the total catch between 1950 and 2010 was 38.1 million metric tons, compared with a reported catch of 14 million metric tons.
Lead researcher Glenn Simmons, from the New Zealand Asia Institute at the University of Auckland Business School, explains the discrepancies in the official numbers, saying that the quota system has been inadvertently rewarding all the misreporting and dumping.
The report basically points out the differences found in actual reported catches versus unreported catches by countries. The discrepancies found are due to the lack of reporting of by-catches, which are substantial. The writers say there is a need to reassess the quota management system so we can better manage our marine fisheries worldwide.
More about reconstructed fish catches, fao fisheries reports, discards, double the numbers, global numbers
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