Fisheries Conflicts of Interest Undermine NZ’s Moral Standing on Oceans Issues.


Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 6.21.59 am

With the Japanese fleet illegally hunting whales in the Southern Whale Sanctuary, and apparently in New Zealand territorial waters, there’s just cause for our Government to stand up for our oceans and their inhabitants. But given the condoned mistreatment of our marine environment locally, the Government lacks the moral legitimacy required to speak out about Japanese actions further afield.
At home, seas that were once abundant with life now host only a shadow of their former inhabitants. Whole species are under pressure, and at best our Quota Management System maintains fish stocks to only 20% of their original numbers. That leaves no population resilience or management slack for either future generations’ use or for species viability. We’re fishing like there’s no tomorrow and at this rate, for many species, there probably won’t be.
Our fisheries practices are driving to extinction beautiful species such as Maui’s & Hector’s Dolphins, and New Zealand Sea Lions, which are all now the rarest in the world, as well as sea bird species, because of fisheries by-catch. Regulation is lax, with observers on only a tiny proportion of fishing vessels, and enforcement for by-catch offences weak.
Right wing governments will always favour the interests of the fishing industry over conservation, with maybe a few concessions of a marine reserve here or there, (insufficient without comprehensive oceans management). But the fishing lobby has disproportionate power in the ‘sustainability’ debate which is why our ocean life is being trashed.
The Sea Food Industry is particularly successful in maintaining close relationships with political parties through overlapping interests, as in the case of Peter Goodfellow who is both National Party President and a Director of Sanford Limited. Sanford own almost a quarter of NZ’s Total Allowable Catch under the Quota Management System, and the Goodfellow family own 37% of Sanford. Peter Goodfellow also owns a significant proportion of Sanford in his own right. In other cases election donations to candidates or Parties breed cynicism about the nature of political influence in public policy. Especially when the government ignores scientific evidence in its decision making.
Defence of the seas and the whales who roam in them is left to noble rogue Non-Governmental Organisations such as Sea Shepherd as local states like New Zealand abrogate both responsibility and action. The ‘Last Oceans’ are being stripped of their intrinsic and use values while countries squabble over the crumbs. Incidentally, Sanford Ltd pioneered the Ross Sea tooth fish industry and pursued it to its limits but now support ‘Marine protection’ for part of it as long as other fishing fleets are locked out while their access is retained.
Being a developed island nation, New Zealand could be setting a positive agenda for marine conservation in the South Pacific. But instead, conflicting interests prevent proper decision making. Our country misses the boat with not just international policy, but domestic policy too.


    • Which part of the ocean that this whaling is taking place is Japan’s territorial waters?

      Japan isn’t even in the southern hemisphere. We have declared a whale sanctuary in our own backyard, and as a respected, law abiding, peaceful nation we have a right to expect countries to respect it.

      The Japanese go on about whaling like it is some affront to their honour that we are annoyed that they come 12,000km from their home to catch whales which we want to protect in our backyard. It is typical of the arrogance of the Japanese nationalism that is behind their pig-headed insistence on whaling that they don’t appear to give a shit what New Zealand might think about this.

      How about this: As a proud New Zealander, I am offended and insulted by Japan’s casual ignoring of our wishes in our backyard in our hemisphere.

      • Our Hemisphere! Wow. I wasn’t aware we could claim a whole hemisphere now. Is this similar to how the US advised outsiders to butt out of it’s hemisphere via the Monroe Doctrine?

  1. Most of the human race is greedy and stupid, will these companies mince up humans once everything else on this planet is consumed! It will probably be called a “Happy Meal” and be sold with a toy of an extinct animal for the kids to play with. It seems anyone will do anything at all for the JOB, which really stands for Just Over Broke but the seas will be emptied for the job, and a few greedy corporates. it goes on and on…. Deep sea oil drilling off the Otago coast could put more pressure on the Sea Lions, Albatrosses and Penguins. But this government will put it all at risk even though enough oil has been extracted to be sure the planet burns… It is all just depressing! When will this revolting species grow up and stop destroying and eating everything as if we own it! How can a “company” come in and “own” the wild fish,oil,forests, fresh water… I am with David Attenborough’s view the Human race is “a plague on the planet”…Do we need a plague to balance this horrendous glut and all this mindless consumption? people love to go on a hunting spree when a few Black Swans land on a harbour, a Canadian Goose ate some farmers grass so we declare war on them even though that bird actually migrates around the world… Point being we are greedy, arrogant, ignorant and apathetic as a species or we wouldn’t be acting like a huge mouth and stomach consuming everything in site!

    • P.s why don’t the Japanese whalers just harpoon all the fat white politicians and corporate corrupt? They have been marinated in expensive liquor and obviously eaten zillions of 5 star dinners….

      • So if we use your argument, if the market demands it, we can then hunt them again to near extinction as we did in the past or even absolute extinction.

    • Kate,
      One bright spot on the horizon is that people like you, the loveable David Attenborough, the irascible Derrick Jensen, and a whole slew of other people are sick of corporate greed running and ruining our lives.

      • Absolutely agree. You know it doesn’t matter how many rocks I turn over or how many times I turn those rocks over to see what’s underneath, everything comes back to the same thing all of the time and that is, the human race is demanding too much of the planet.
        We will only be able to realistically turn to renewable resources without destroying any more of the planet, and maybe, with luck, restoring some of it, with far, far fewer of us.
        I get really annoyed at people who think this is anti-people. They need to get their heads around the idea that it is, in fact the most pro-people thing possible
        Of course they may think, as the Pythons put it, that every sperm is sacred.

          • Hi Yogibare, I watched some of the video by Hans Rosling I will watch it all tonight. I like the word that he used at the end I sneeked a look at, he is a “possible-ist” I hope he is right. Thanks for the link I love the links on this site they are very interesting and informative.

              • Ten billion is a lot but, unless you want to kill the kids before they grow up or euthanasia the old folk before they die off, we are stuck with that estimated number which should then start decreasing.
                The video shows with blocks how and why this number is reached before a decline is anticipated.

                • The trouble is, all these estimations and guesstimations seem to leave the natural world and the environment completely out of the picture.
                  10 billion of us would probably see the end of rain forests, the seas ruined, a number of things that would render the planet an unpleasant place to be
                  I can’t help thinking that any reduction after that number will be because we will have wrecked the planet in getting there
                  We may fail in trying to get the message across, but we absolutely have to try. Just sitting back and saying the sort of thing you are, is unacceptable

                  • According to the video the message is getting across to places like Bangladesh, where the birth rate is now 2.2, Africa is more problematical unless we are prepared to raise their standard of living, but birth rates are falling in most of the developed world.
                    That said I do take your point that ten billion on this small planet is a scary prospect.

            • Pleased you enjoyed the video, Kate, I wonder if you have watched any of Scott Noble’s films on Metonia- “Psywar”/”The Power Princple” etc. give a good idea of how the corporate system works.

  2. On the whole, the human race has seen that it cannot just wholesale hunt any wild creature on land (a few of us still need to wake up) I just wonder why we think the oceans are different and we can just bash them around to our hearts’ content and somehow think we can justify it.
    We longer hunt down any large animals for food (maybe because we haven’t left enough to be able to do so) so why do whales come in for a different attitude.
    At the very least those who think that we should be able to hunt as and how we choose might like to consider that, in the end, it is us who are the poorer for each species we manage to destroy

  3. The hunting of Minke’s is particularly objectionable – they are a gregarious whale that approaches boats to greet them.

    The NZ fishing industry unfortunately has taken a series of wrong turns, leaving them less developed and less sustainable than most countries. The use of third nations crews allows a tier of ineffective managers to survive in spite of failing to adapt to fishery destruction and species sucession.

    It is not even an economic success – Japan’s industry is twenty times the size built on the same littoral area – much of this is possible because of many sustainable and aquacultural component industries.

    NZ doesn’t even have a viable live chain yet – amazingly backward.

Comments are closed.