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A 2016 survey found that licensed fishing vessels in New 
Zealand were illegally discarding 38 percent of their catch 
(more than four times the global discard average), and then 
systematically filing false catch reports while government 
regulators looked the other way. Photo courtesy of Liz 

Making a lie appear truthful

New Zealand First today tabled an 

amendment to the Crown Miner-

als Act that would collect royal-

ties on drinking water exports.

“The government refused leave for 

the bill to be introduced because they 

can’t seem to make their minds up on 

charging for drinking water exports,” 

says Denis O’Rourke, New Zealand 

First Environment Spokesperson. 

“The Prime Minister says on one hand 

that he will look into it, while Environ-

ment Minister Nick Smith spent most 

of the week saying that the current 

volume is too small to worry about.

“Even a modest per-litre royalty 

on nine-million litres of drink-

ing water exported would gener-

ate at least $900,000 per year, and 

that is a lot of money, especially 

when that sum can only grow.

“If drinking water exports went to 

0.001% of all extracted water, roy-

alties grow to about $20m a year 

and that’s not only good for tax-

payers, it could also be great for 

the economic development of the 

regions that water comes from.  

“This is why New Zealand First today 

tried to introduce in Parliament an 

amendment to the Crown Miner-

als Act. This would classify drinking 

water for export as a mineral for the 

purposes of the Act and would then 

be subject to a royalty to be decided 

in consultation with the people of 

the region the water comes from. 

“And it also ensures that 25% to 50 % 

of royalties would go back to those 

regions for local infrastructure and 

for regional economic development 

and job creation,” says Mr O’Rourke.



The Seafood NZ, Friday Update Cap-

tain’s Blog on 17 March 2017 wrote 

‘Iceland is often lauded as having 

a superior fisheries management 

model to that of this country. A rec-

reational group cited it glowingly in 

its submission to the current review 

of the Fisheries Act,’ created so much 

mirth in the office we had to all knock 

off early and go down to the local 

pub. The MPI leave us incredulous 

but these guys are off the planet.

One certainly wonders where they 

get their information from, as the 

rubbish they write is beyond belief. 

Pankhurst is saying that Iceland’s 

fisheries management is inferior to 

NZ’s. He uses the so-called facts that 

“Iceland has virtually no marine rec-

reational fishery, or customary fishery, 

has far fewer species than New Zea-

land and thus far less bycatch, and its 

fishing industry is heavily subsidised”. 

The truth is they have a vibrant recre-

ational sector fished by the descen-

dants of the Vikings and through 

selective trawl innovations reduce 

by-catch and are not subsidized. In 

reality, a key issue for their commer-

cial industry is increasing resource 

taxes, because unlike NZ they utilize 

99% of the fish, leading to high lev-

els of profitability, the likes of which 

NZ do not enjoy by a country mile. 

Hence, government want a big-

ger share of their growing spoils.

According to Pankhurst, Stokes says 

Iceland’s ITQ system is not the model 

for NZ. He suggests this is because 

Iceland ITQ holders pay a resource 

rental tax, have less secure prop-

erty rights with controls firmly in 

the hands of government. A major 

difference between the countries is 

that Icelandic ITQ is attached to ves-

sel and/or municipality/community, 

whereas New Zealand ITQs are held 

by quota owners most of whom 

don’t go fishing.  Sounds like Iceland’s 

system is what NZ needs which ex-

plains why Pankhurst is trashing it.

He also questions whether the Iceland-

ers are up to speed with New Zealand 

in areas such as net technology, mam-

mal and seabird bycatch mitigation, 

and marketing multiple species across 

numerous markets. Utter rubbish not 

even based on alternative facts. Ice-

land have been innovating trawl nets 

for hundreds of years to be selective. 

As for marketing, a simple comparison 

of their industry’s profitability versus 

NZ shows that Iceland out performs 

NZ by a country mile. Mostly due to 

a 100% discard ban leading to 99% of 

the fish and by-catch being utilised.

At the end of the day, Pankhurst seems 

to be struggling to understand how 

can a small fishing nation of 320,000 

people, have a better fisheries man-

agement system than NZ?  Maybe be-

cause they are just much smarter and 

don’t hide or lie about what they do.

An iwi leader says:

I went to Iceland in 2013 and my un-

derstanding of the differences were: 

Use it or lose it – the quota is tied to 

the boat - no Queen Street fisher-

men owning quota and pretending 

they don’t know what happens at sea;

Quota has to be bid for to use 

over a term; it is not a gift to 

the balance sheet in perpetuity;

A portion set aside for small scale 

community/town based fishermen;

Total transparency - vessel position/

catch in real time, catches reported 

every 6 hours, sale prices, bycatch 

trade off, all available on the in-

ternet to the public 10 years back;

Government receives all fish at 

the wharf, completes returns 

and randomly weighs catches;

All catch landed. Over catch auc-

tioned - 33% to boat and 67% 

goes to research programmes.

Strong enforcement - for any 

cheats, one strike they’re out;

Value add cooling/processing de-

cades ahead of NZ – almost no waste, 

everything turned into serious money.

Research/stock assessments free from 

political and industry interference.

Iceland clearly shows that ITQ proper-

ty rights in perpetuity are not needed 

to have a high performing responsible 

industry. Seems that Seafood NZ is 

attempting to discredit any system 

which shows how fraudulent and 

badly managed the NZ QMS system is. 

ing the problem, he added, “could 

see a large international company 

(like) McDonald’s refusing to buy 

our ‘non-green-image’ fish or hav-

ing imports cancelled because of 

those pressures.” McDonald’s is a 

major buyer of New Zealand fish.

The skippers of all five trawl-

ers got off with a warning, 

which caused considerable in-

dignation in the press and 

in the liberal 


in a 2014 e-mail released by Heron, 

Dave Turner, the director of fisher-

ies, wrote to Gallacher, his boss at 

the time, that excessive discards 

were a “systemic 

failure of the cur-

rent system.” But if 

the fishermen were 

forced to follow 

the law, “We would 

probably put half 

the inshore fishing 

fleet out of busi-

ness overnight.”

Turner is far from the 

first official to sound 

the alarm. In 2008, 

Fisheries Operations 

Manager Jonathan 

Peacey wrote that 

the quota system has 

created a situation 

where “dumping… 

is common in many 

New Zealand fisheries.” He urged 

a “comprehensive review” that 

would lead to major changes, but 

no such review was 

undertaken by the 

National Party ad-

ministration, which 

came into power a 

few months later.

In an unpublished 

2008 report ob-

tained by Earth Is-

land Journal, Shaun 

Driscoll, at the time 

the fisheries minis-

try’s manager for investigations, 

noted that “an overbearing and 

over-powerful fishing industry” 

had created a system that “virtually 

guarantees illegal fishing practices.”   

“The quota system,” writes Fiona Mc-

Cormack, an anthropologist at the 

University of Waikato, in Hamilton, 

New Zealand, “concentrates fish-

ing power in the hands of industry, 

which allows it to capture its gov-

ernment regulators and to squeeze 

the fishers so much that they are 

forced to discard. The only sustaina-

bility it achieved is the sustainability 

of the profits of the quota holders.”

Read the complete report at: