EDS’s Voices from the Sea is a wake-up call for industry

May 1, 2018

The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) has written a compelling tale of the destruction being wrought on our seas and fisheries and this must be a call to arms for the government.

Voices from the Sea: Managing New Zealand’s Fisheries documents the devastation caused by commercial fishing to our marine bird life and mammals. The recreational fishing lobby group LegaSea says the book reinforces the growing call that the Quota Management System has failed to protect New Zealand’s fisheries and marine environment from excessive exploitation.

“Every day we see more evidence of the excesses and this book exposes many weak points of fisheries management. We have long called for the effective implementation of the environmental principles in the Fisheries Act. Too often maintaining or increasing commercial catch limits are put ahead of ecological science and addressing bycatch problems.

“It’s bad enough seeing, and suffering, the effects of the rapid decline of key fisheries. Information released to EDS confirms that commercial fishing is responsible for the slaughter of thousands of seabirds each year, and that our unique and rare marine mammals are also at risk. The wider public will not accept this behaviour any longer,” says LegaSea spokesperson Scott Macindoe.

LegaSea believes electronic monitoring of fishing activity is essential. Cameras must be placed on commercial fishing boats to provide more certainty about the capture of endangered species, and to help minimise this mortality.

“We know that boats with cameras onboard report twice as many deaths as those without cameras. It’s high time we stopped relying on self-reporting to manage this situation and moved to a model where the Minister and Ministry of Primary Industries wrests back control of our fisheries and holds those responsible for their actions.”

The commercial fishing model is driving some species to the edge of collapse and it is imperative we act now.

“We want to see more fish left in the sea for future generations and in order to do that we need to stop treating New Zealand fisheries as an infinite resource. We must start managing fisheries at higher levels so our marine ecosystems can thrive, and to allow for the public’s interest in healthy fisheries and the needs of protected species.”


  1. Fisheries Manifesto – policies required to restore New Zealand’s fisheries and marine productivity.
  2. Thousands of seabirds and mammals caught in NZ waters – Article quoting EDS’ law and policy expert Raewyn Peart.
  3. Report – Richard, Y.; Abraham, E.R. (2015). Assessment of the risk of commercial fisheries to New Zealand seabirds, 2006–07 to 2012–13.  New Zealand Aquatic Environment and Biodiversity Report 162. 85 p.