NZ Herald: Fish forever?

Peter Huck writes in the New Zealand Herald about our fisheries situation, the Quota Management System (introduced in the late 1980s) and the difficulty of balancing long-term and short-term (or economic and conservation) interests.

Conservation groups are pushing for the setup of no-fishing reserves, but, although the QMS has attracted criticism recently as being incomplete, but industry (and the Ministry of Fisheries) say that it’s the best means of managing fish stocks.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“Targeting fish without full scientific knowledge can have ruinous consequences, as we discovered after hammering orange roughy, which take 20 to 32 years to reach sexual maturity, and can live to 100 years. Bottom trawling devastated the species, its habitat and caught other species.

“Besides assessing a stock’s commercial value, it helps to know about fish lifecycles and how they interact with ecosystems. Should we set quotas lower to allow for biological variation within target and by-catch species? Crucially, how much should we err on the side of caution when setting quotas, even if this reduces profits? This question goes to the heart of the sustainability debate.”