A high court decision that protects tarakihi sets a precedent for protecting other fish populations and is a milestone in fisheries management, says marine conservation group LegaSea.
“It’s a hugely important judgement that has run under the radar”, said LegaSea spokesperson Sam Woolford.
“Firstly, the court affirmed that decisions made by the previous Minister of Fisheries were not conservative enough. It also sets a precedent that commercial interests come after the Minister’s obligation to meet the bottom line of sustainability.
“In fact, sustainability is not enough. With a ministerial review pending, we are hopeful that Minister Parker will make a decision that will rebuild the tarakihi fishery on the east coast back to healthy levels.”
“We applaud Forest and Bird for their work on this case, which offers protection for a species that has been in deepening trouble for many years. LegaSea launched the Time Out For Tarakihi campaign to highlight this issue in July 2018 so we are grateful that Forest and Bird could take on and win this case.
“The quality of the judgement is superb and detailed. It leaves no stone unturned and if the other parties were to appeal such a high quality decision it would be a step backwards. This is our collective opportunity to prioritise the health of the marine environment. We look forward to the Minister giving effect to this judgement by implementing an effective rebuild plan before the start of the new fishing season in October.”
East Coast tarakihi have been fished to 16% of their original population.
When tarakihi were surveyed in 2018 the extent of the issue was officially revealed for the first time, with the assessment confirming what people had known for years.
The review resulted in 2019 limitations on the amount of tarakihi that could be caught by commercial fishers and instigated a rebuild plan over 20 years.
The high court decision said the minister should have properly considered how long it would take to rebuild the fishery, and he should have taken into account sustainability before commercial pressures.
Tarakihi is also known as ocean bream and silver bream, and red moki is a member of the tarakihi family.
The Minister must now make a new decision by October.
The decision can be found here
Forest and Bird’s overview can be found here: https://www.forestandbird.org.nz/resources/high-court-victory-tarakihi-recovery
LegaSea’s 2018 campaign material can be found here: Time Out For Tarakihi