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Recreational fishers are now 

faced with commercial fishers in 

full panic mode. MPI have been 

caught with their pants down 

again and are now introducing 

their monitoring cameras to the 

entire inshore commercial fleet.

MPI must have told the commer-

cial fishers they intend to enforce 

the QMS rules using footage from 

the on-board cameras. This has 

caused outright panic and ad-

missions from commercial fish-

ers that they cannot fish legally 

under the QMS and parts of the 

system will need to be changed if 

they are going to stay in business.

One commercial Fisher said that he 

had no control over what his trawl 

net caught and he found as many 

as thirty different species in a haul.

The ocean is like a big box of choco-

lates, and when you bulk harvest 

by the ton with such an indiscrimi-

nate method you don’t know what 

you actually have until is on your 

deck, even Forest Gump knew that.

The truth about the QMS is now be-

ing told by the commercial fishers 

who have been working in it since 

it was introduced thirty years ago. 

It is now clear that the QMS was 

developed for the quota holders 

to have ownership of the fishery 

and as a PR exercise and marketing 

tool for those selling fish overseas.

Sanford and Moana NZ fishing com-

panies have pulled their socks up 

and say they have stopped sending 

their fishers to sea with a shopping 

list. These two companies also plan 

to take steps to reduce Maui Dolphin 

deaths on the west coast eventually.

By recognizing that the blue wa-

ter gill net fishers have had an im-

pact on the Maui they have taken 

steps to catch or receive fish only 

caught on a long line in the area. 

Sanford and Moana Fisheries 

could well be the only NZ fish-

ing companies with the envi-

ronmental green tick of sustain-

ability that consumers are now 

asking for pre-purchase of seafood.

Although these forward-thinking 

companies have recognized the 

changing public and consumer re-

actions around seafood harvesting 

and the by-catch issues they still 

hold out hope of being able to bulk 

harvest from the inshore fishery.

If these companies and MPI listen to 

these whinging commercial fishers, 

they would realise that no fishing 

management system will prevent 

the capture of unwanted fish in 

the inshore fishery by any trawl/

seine or blue water gillnet method.

Furthermore, the NZ public will 

no longer accept the sight of any 

trawl type vessel that they see in 

the inshore fishery as a kiwi bloke 

providing them with fish for fish 

and chips. Rather, they see it as it 

is, a destructive, wasteful method 

of fishing for the export market. 

MPI treated the NZ people’s holiday 

seafood as an export commodity, 

and they will not be forgiven for 

it. The next poor soul that inherits 

MPI fishery from Nathan Guy must 

bring back the stand alone Minis-

try of Fisheries with all new faces. 

This new Ministry must be inde-

pendent and focused only on 

the true sustainability of the fish-

ery. As the fishery management 

stands, we do not have a shared 

fishery. We have an export fishery 

with a few left over for the locals. 

Commercial Fishers in full Panic Mode 

The winds of change are blow-

ing through the fishing industry. 

And hopefully through the MPI 

with the coming elections. The 

MPI is so rotten it is well over-

due for a complete makeover.

The Future of Our Fisheries re-

view while under way, makes a 

complete mockery of the demo-

cratic process when the MPI em-

ploy scientists to blatantly lie.

When the Operation Truck, Trios 

and Turnip reports are released to 

the world the public and valuable 

overseas markets will be alarmed 

at the depth of corruption in the 

MPI, fishing companies and that 

our fishers are and never have 

played by the rules set down in the 

quota management system around 

practices such as fish dumping.

Illegal fish dumping happens be-

fore a boat heads back to land; it 

might be because the fisher has 

caught more than their quota al-

lows them, or they might want to 

get rid of fish that are less valuable 

because of size, age or other criteria.

Justifying the waste by saying that 

many of the fish being thrown over-

board are already dead or quickly 

die, and shows how the practice 

adds to the depletion of fish stocks.

According to Minister for Primary In-

dustries Nathan Guy, the new cam-

era surveillance system would be a 

game changer. However given his 

track record he cannot be believed.

“Fishermen have only ever brought 

home fish which they are going to 

be paid for ... and you could have 

a species which doesn’t have a 

minimum legal size and could be 

the size of a small ballpoint pen 

and legally that should be landed. 

It was never landed prior to the 

quota system and in most cases 

that doesn’t come home today.”

Overfishing and fish dumping

Twenty years ago the WWF, helped 

found the MSC but has now identi-

fied a conflict of interest in MSC’s 

scheme, which charges a licensing 

fee of 0.5 percent of wholesale val-

ue to companies that use its logo to 

identify their products as originat-

ing from an MSC-certified fishery.

A leaked report from the World 

Wildlife Fund (WWF) describes 

“troubling, systemic flaws” within 

the Marine Stewardship Council 

(MSC) certification scheme, cast-

ing doubt on the integrity of a 

programme trusted by millions of 

seafood consumers around the 

world to identify fisheries that are 

sustainable and well-managed.

Evidence is mounting that this 

creates a conflict with MSC’s 

role as an independent and im-

partial standard-setting body.

With more than 23,000 products us-

ing the MSC ecolabel on sale to con-

sumers in nearly 100 countries, rev-

enue from licensing fees to industry 

on those products amounted to 

US14 million in revenue in the last fis-

cal year – approximately 73 percent 

of the organization’s total income.

MSC has aggressively pursued glob-

al scale growth” and in recent years 

“has begun to reap very large sums 

from the fishing industry. MSC has 

also used “questionable practices” 

that have weakened rules meant 

to prevent overfishing, potentially 

making it easier for unsustain-

able fisheries to gain certification.

WWF says that MSC has no policy 

to assess how ‘green’ the fishing 

fleet actually is. MSC has routinely 

‘certified’ fisheries as ‘sustainable’ 

whose fleet and shore-side infra-

structure and operations are still 

rooted in ‘High-Carbon Practices’. 

WWF calls into question “objec-

tivity” when licensing a fishery 

means more revenue to MSC. Three 

peer-reviewed academic articles 

critical of MSC are available on our 


- Bush 2013 - The devils tri-

angle of MSC certification

- Christian et al 2013 - A review of for-

mal objections to MSC certification

- Goyert Sagarin Annala 

2010 - The promise and pit-

falls of MSC certification

Extracts from the Christian et al 

2013 paper say it all: “Despite high 

costs and difficult procedures, 

conservation organizations and 

other groups have filed and paid 

for 19 formal objections to MSC 

fisheries certifications. Only one 

objection has been upheld such 

that the fishery was not certified.”

“An analysis of the formal objec-

tions indicates that the MSC’s prin-

ciples for sustainable fishing are 

too lenient and discretionary, and 

allow for overly generous interpre-

tation by third-party certifiers and 

adjudicators, which means that 

the MSC label may be misleading 

both consumers and conserva-

tion funders. The weaknesses in 

MSC standards that allow contro-

versial fisheries to be certified are 

not communicated to consumers.”

“MSC markets its seafood as ‘‘the 

best environmental choice.’’ Given 

existing concerns, these state-

ments could mislead consum-

ers about the sustainability and 

environmental friendliness of 

many MSC-certified products. 

“This is unsurprising as all incentives 

point toward certification, which 

has led the MSC to write and inter-

pret its principles of sustainability 

in an intentionally ambiguous way 

(e.g., ‘‘respect for laws’’) and has led 

third-party certifiers to generously 

interpret those principles, as well as 

generously assign high scores. As a 

result, and contrary to MSC claims, 

MSC-certified fisheries are not all 

sustainable, and certified fisheries 

are also not necessarily improving.”

“The question remains whether 

the MSC will overcome these 

problems, or if seafood eco-

labeling will be, in the end, 

characterized as ‘bluewashing’.”

 “The Marine Stewardship Council 

(MSC) has continued to strengthen 

its position in the market based on 

its credibility as a transparent, ac-

countable and science-based third 

party certification scheme. How-

ever, the consolidation of MSC’s 

credibility risks being undermined 

by the poor representation of devel-

oping world fisheries and concerns 

that the scheme provides little 

incentive for continual improve-

ment for fisheries once certified.”

The paper argues that the chal-

lenge of maintaining credibility 

while increasing access and fisher-

ies improvement constitutes a 

‘devils triangle’. The ‘devils tri-

angle’ of MSC certification: Bal-

ancing credibility, accessibil-

ity and continuous improvement.

All this raises the question of what 

then is the strategy of MSC? Stra-

tegically from the fishermen’s 

perspective it’s not very smart al-

lowing MSC to effectively become 

the gatekeeper to market access.

Enviably it will lead to MSC con-

trolling who goes to market, what 

they go with and at what cost. Hav-

ing an organization control ones 

value chain is not a smart thing 

and that is to say nothing of the 

cost they add to it. Fonterra learned 

this lesson in China - the hard 

way from the melamine debacle. 

Financial is not the only conflict of in-

terest. Surely, having industry on the 

board of MSC is a more serious con-




Harsh criticism of MSC