Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Bill to strengthen fisheries protections

A new Bill that aims to strengthen New Zealand’s ability to combat illegal fishing outside its domestic waters and beef up regulation for commercial fishers in international waters has had its first reading in Parliament.

The Fisheries (International Fishing and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2023 sets out stronger powers for the investigation of and action against suspected illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in waters outside New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, said Oceans and Fisheries Minister, Shane Jones.

“This Bill reaffirms New Zealand’s position as a world leader in the sustainable management of fisheries, including in our surrounding international waters,” said Mr Jones.

“The Pacific Ocean provides food and economic opportunities for many countries, including New Zealand. This Bill sets out key changes to help ensure those benefits continue.”

Key changes in the Bill include:

  • Improving the regulation and permitting of New Zealand vessels fishing outside our waters;
  • Strengthening New Zealand’s ability to combat IUU fishing by both New Zealand and foreign vessels;
  • Clarifying and expanding the international fishing permitting regime for industry and decision-makers;
  • Strengthening the efficiency and effectiveness of action taken against fisheries violations.

Last year, an inquiry by the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee on illegal fishing in the Pacific and Southern Oceans made clear the threat illegal fishing poses to New Zealand’s interests in those oceans, the Minister said.

“Illegal fishing undermines New Zealand’s contributions to sustainable regional fisheries management and disadvantages our legitimate fishing operators.”

“It undercuts our operators, reduces their profitability, distorts market competition, and challenges the future availability of fishery resources.

“The changes included in this Bill ensure fisheries continue to thrive, provide food and livelihoods for Kiwis, and export opportunities,” Mr Jones said.

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