Public vote with their conscience – and their stomachs

September 27, 2023

Media release: Horizon polling results

With an election looming, a new survey has found conservative ocean fishing policies will be a top priority for many people casting their votes in the October general election.

The nationwide survey by Horizon Research, found 68% of Kiwis believe conservative ocean fishing policies should have top priority, or be given more priority than they do now, by political parties.

 This includes around 194,000 voters (5% of New Zealand’s adult population) giving the ocean fishing policies 100% priority when they cast their party vote.

The research also reveals that most (79%) of Kiwis believe bottom trawling and dredging should be phased out of our inshore fisheries and replaced with selective fishing techniques, with only 3% wanting them to continue unrestricted. 18% didn’t know.

The survey also indicated that 59% of respondents felt the commercial fishing industry has too much sway over government officials. 

“There are two things that are clear from the research,” says Sam Woolford from LegaSea. “Firstly, New Zealanders want change. Trawling is destructive. This commercial fishing method is damaging fish stocks and ocean biodiversity. And secondly, MPs need to listen to their constituents because bottom trawling is not acceptable to most New Zealanders.”  

The survey results highlight how policies focused on sustainable ocean fishing policies could enhance parties’ support.

 Woolford says there is growing awareness of the impact of bottom trawling on our coastal fisheries, but clearly, greater pressure is needed if we are to send a clear message to the new government, MPI, and commercial fishing companies that environmentally damaging fishing methods need to be phased out now and alternatives put in place.  

The poll also revealed that the majority of voters (78%) wanted the future of our fisheries to be focused on feeding the domestic market using smaller boats and be more regionally based. 

Ian Steele, President of the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council says, “It’s clear New Zealanders want to see our fish used to feed Kiwis first, with exports second. We need to support our regional economies and the small family-owned businesses that are currently struggling. This is at odds with Fisheries NZ and the recently approved Industry Transformation Plan that focused on building bigger trawling vessels, based in our main centres.

“The commercial industry keeps trying to tell us that without bottom trawling there will be no fish to feed New Zealanders. 90% of all wild fish is exported, so this is an outright fallacy. Kiwis want quality seafood, sourced locally using sustainable practices.” 

The Horizon Poll was conducted nationwide between 17th and 24th August 2023. There were 1,048 respondents aged 18+, representing New Zealand’s adult population.

At a 95% confidence level, the survey has a maximum margin of error of ±3% overall. A copy of the survey can be found here.