Wild New Zealand seafood stocks are a positive story. They're in plentiful supply, a sign of good management. New Zealand adopted the Quota Management system in 1986 and since then has been able to carefully mange its wild seafood stocks using science and strict enforcement. Because of this, New Zealand seafood has gained the reputation of being one of the most sustainable fisheries in the world which is great to know as it controls the fourth largest exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the world, covering 3.8 million square km. Thats 24 times the land mass of New Zealand.
Addressing the Seafood New Zealand conference recently in Wellington, Ministry for Primary Industries principal fisheries science adviser Dr Pamela Mace said when she looked at fish stocks around the world, New Zealand was "the best success story of all".
Dr Pamela Mace went on to say that
"New Zealand's fisheries are performing extremely well overall, at least as good as or beyond the standards of the best in the world. I don't think there's any question about that,"
She said of the 300-plus stocks, 83 per cent were above or well above the level where sustainability issues might be a concern, and that figure represented 96 per cent of landed fish.
Pretty good huh! Its nice to read some positive facts. Its not just New Zealand. USA has been achieving some excellent results with their wild fish stocks recovering after fisheries managers implemented rebuilding measures last decade. Stocks like Canary Rockfish and Petrale Sole have recovered decades ahead of what scientists predicted. They predicted 2057! read more here.
Another fascinating story about the US is the overall improved health of its wild stocks. They use an index called the 'Fish Stock Sustainability Index (FSSI) '. First implemented in 2005, the FSSI is a quarterly index that currently includes 199 fish stocks selected because of their importance to commercial and recreational fisheries. The FSSI measures the performance of these important fish stocks, which represent 85 percent of total catch. The fascinating part to this story is that when they first started measuring against this index, the figure was 382.5 (out of 1000) and in 2015 its at 748.5 !! Wow, thats awesome news ! Go the USA. They have deep pockets and are able to fund a lot of science that goes into this to achieve these kind of results.
I wish that one day these kind of stories would be picked up by media outlets, or at least used by media to balance an article so it gives the reader more context so he or she can come to a balanced opinion.
Seafood NZ CEO Tim Pankhurst recently said in a newsletter...
"The apocalypse industry does a good job in raising awareness but maybe, just maybe, one day we could see a report that recognizes that we are not all going to hell in a handcart and some sectors and activities even deserve praise, or at least recognition."
And Dr Mace about a report released by WWF recently (which Mr Pankhurst is referring to in his above comment) on overfishing and severe depletion of fish stocks since 1970....
"Some people don’t seem to understand – or don’t want to understand – that you can’t harvest natural wild resources and expect them to stay at the pristine level "
And again from Mr Pankhurst about the above comment from Dr Mace...
"The logic in that is undeniable. Most high seas and deepwater fisheries have been harvested only since the early 1970s. Of course the original biomass will decline once it is commercially fished. That will be in the order of 50-60 per cent if the resource is being managed appropriately. The maximum sustainable yield – the balance between extracting maximum value whilst sustaining the population – ideally sits at around 40 percent of the original biomasss. Extraction of resources – be it oil mining, forestry, land cleared for farming and crops, wine growing or fishing to feed a hungry world and maintain economic lifestyles – has an impact.
The honest approach is to accept that premise and work to sustain production whilst minimising the environmental effects."
And to round off on this post.....a positive international perspective came last week from US-based National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry, who told Radio New Zealand that New Zealand's approach to marine conservation was ahead of many other countries.
Skerry has spent 30 years documenting the beauty of the ocean and its marine life.
“There’s certainly big problems everywhere but New Zealand, in my estimation, has always been progressive in terms of taking a conservation approach, certainly within the EEZ (exclusive economic zone) and trying to create replenishment zones.” Brian Skerry