EDS questions motivation of fisheries companies
The Environmental Defence Society has responded to the media release and High Court proceedings filed today by the Fishing Industry Association and a number of fishing companies challenging the proposed Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.
“We are gob-smacked by this announcement,” said EDS CEO Gary Taylor.
“We are hugely disappointed that the industry, after extolling its acceptance of good corporate behavior in recent years, is reverting to its previous narrow and self-interested approach to marine management issues. I couldn’t be more disappointed.
“We intend to liaise with the primary drivers of the Kermadec initiative – Pew, WWF and Forest and Bird – and will consider joining the proceedings and vigorously opposing them. We will first instruct senior counsel and get good advice on the merits of doing so.
“The preliminary question that needs to be addressed is whether it’s proper for the Courts to be asked to effectively obstruct a Bill’s passage through Parliament. This raises important constitutional issues. It may be that the proceedings should be delayed until the Parliamentary process has been completed.
“We are also giving serious consideration to asking the Prime Minister to widen the scope of the current review of New Zealand’s Quota Management System being conducted by the Ministry for Primary Industries.
“It may be appropriate to broaden what is currently a narrow technical review to scrutinise the whole system, particularly if it’s to be used to prevent marine protection initiatives. We can’t have private companies, many with offshore interests in their ownership, standing in the way of the public interest in protecting important parts of our oceans.
“Fish are like freshwater – no one owns them. The QMS gives rights to harvest them but ultimately the New Zealand Government decides on allocation and how such rights may be exercised.
“When quota owners try to trump the public interest in conservation of our seas it’s time to have another look at the system,” Mr Taylor concluded.
Download full statement (pdf)