Fryday FryUp – 23 September

September 23, 2016

Welcome to the FryUp – a regular look back at the week of fishing in the news.

MPI flounders and confounds
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has had a turgid seven days.

It kicked off this time last week with the release of the Heron Report into the decision why no prosecutions would be brought against industrial fishers caught on film dumping fish.

The footage came to light with the leaking of two draft reports into Ministry operations (Hippocamp and Achilles) to the University of Auckland research team as they were looking into historic catch in New Zealand’s fisheries.

When the University’s Catch Reconstruction Report hit the streets earlier this year MPI officials and industry spokespeople were quick to condemn it as inaccurate and uninformed. Saying they couldn’t prosecute because, apparently, it would require a law change.

However, the lack of prosecution and the under-reporting of dolphin deaths was considered powerful enough to warrant an investigation and a QC was appointed.

The Heron report paints a picture of a Ministry unable to live up to its stewardship and regulatory role, and seemingly unwilling to acknowledge its short comings.

No mention is made of the need for a law change. Indeed, MPI investigators recommended prosecuting and it was down to senior MPI officials to say no. One of the reasons given – it would be embarrassing to the Ministry.

As is traditional with bad news, the report came out on a Friday and I’m sure MPI went to bed hoping it would all be forgotten by Monday.

Instead, the media (in particular TV3 and Radio New Zealand) spent the week picking over the carcass and extracting maximum news value from it.
Over the past week there have been interviews with MPI officials who reiterated the lack of a problem and Nathan Guy who valiantly tried to defend his Ministry. LegaSea spokespeople Scott Macindoe and Richard Baker featured on TV3’s Newshub and national radio. Commercial fishers also waded into the debate.

By the end of the week questions had been asked in Parliament and a snap debate called to discuss whether MPI had misled the House.

LegaSea has been leading the call for a full blown Commission of Inquiry into fisheries management and the Quota Management System.

Today the news emerges that Labour is accusing MPI of trying to rig the tender for electronic monitoring on boats, to ensure industrial fishers would be given a say in the decision as to who got the job. Funnily enough the job went Trident – an industry-owned company.

MPI continues to say that a full-blown review of New Zealand fisheries is already under way and there’s no need for another.

This is simply not true.

LegaSea has met with MPI’s review team leaders and they have made it very clear that the review will not look at key aspects of fisheries management.

In particular, the review will not cover the quota management system tools, quota allocations or allowances. The review’s starting point is that the QMS is good, that it’s working and that the system is not broken, but needs a bit of a polish.

LegaSea would suggest that the whole thing needs to be dissected and nothing short of a full review of the QMS and the way MPI manages our fisheries, by an independent and external party, is warranted.

As the New Zealand Herald points out in its story on the whole debacle, “No one in the fishing industry has received more than a warning and no one at MPI has faced any sanctions” over the fish dumping caught on camera.

LegaSea – MPI needs to be overhauled following damning report
LegaSea – A Commission of Inquiry is the only answer
NZ Herald – Why fishing review was ordered
Newshub – MPI ‘up to their necks’ in fish-dumping scandal
NZ Herald – Calls for new inquiry into fish dumping intensify
NZ Herald – Urgent debate on illegal fish dumping as opposition MPs say they feel misled by senior MPI officials
Newshub – Labour calls for fish dumping inquiry at MPI
NewstalkZB – Call to remove MPI from fisheries management after damning report
RadioNZ – MPI confident all fishing boat skippers will comply with law
RadioNZ – MPI tried to rig fishing monitoring contract – Labour
RadioNZ – MPI official admits fish dumping widespread
RadioNZ – MPI officials back-tracked on fish dumping case
RadioNZ – Emails reveal how MPI backed away from prosecutions
MPI – Future-proofing fisheries management

LegaSea Poll
Here at FryUp HQ we’ve pulled together a cheeky poll to find out what you think about whether there should be a full Commission of Inquiry into this mess.
It’s dead easy to fill in – there’s only one question and it’ll take you about three seconds to complete. Please give is a go and tell us what you think. The link is above and below.

And if you want to do more please join our mailing list and join the tens of thousands of fishers who are starting to ask questions about why our fisheries are so poorly managed, and what are we going to do about it?

LegaSea is fully funded by donations and contributions from fishers just like yourself. If you can, please consider a donation to help us fight on your behalf. We’re only as strong as the support we get from people like you. To all of you who have already donated, thank you from us all.

LegaSea – Take the poll
LegaSea – Join the Team
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