Saturday, October 27, 2007

Protecting Hector's Dolphin may cause up to $88 million in losses for New Zealand fishermen

South Island fishermen will lose close to $80 million if proposals to protect Hector's dolphin are put in place.

The Seafood Industry Council said the loss to the national industry would equate to $88 million in lost catch value and an additional $75.5m in devalued quota, plus 411 fishing jobs.

Commercial Fishermen's Federation president, Doug Loader of Nelson, said fishermen from Cape Campbell to Haast would lose close to $16m in earnings and a conservative $63m in devalued quota under the proposal to close areas to set-netting and trawling. In its submission to the Hector's dolphin Threat Management Plan the Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC) said the lost catch would cost the industry $44m.

This would multiply out to an $88m loss to the nation when including downstream suppliers, employment and regional expenditure.

A further $75.5m would be lost nationally in devalued quota on the closure of broad areas of the coastline to set netting and trawling.

Set-netters would be the most affected by the proposal which would also force fishing fleets into less economic grounds, said SeaFIC.

Consumers bordering the closed areas would lose access to fresh locally-caught fish and affected quota holders would be likely to seek compensation.

SeaFIC said the draft plan relied on selective unreviewed data and unproven science and should be withdrawn so further research and monitoring could be done.

SeaFIC chief executive Owen Symmans said the plan would devastate inshore fishermen and their communities.

Regions such as Taranaki, Lyttelton and Riverton would see generational family businesses and processing factories close and boats tie up, he said.

"Fishermen are strung out in fear these government proposals will close them down. People are really frightened about the outcome," said Symmans.

Loader said the South Island figures were conservative as they only considered the main affected species.

The proposal has devastated fishermen and their families, and would impact hugely on supporting communities and industry, which rely on an average of seven on-shore jobs created for every one at sea.

"A lot of people are realising they will lose their business and livelihoods," said Loader.

Fishermen on the South Island's east coast would be most affected, where most undertake some form of set-netting or trawling.

"And I know some guys on the west coast of the North Island who will give up fishing completely."
He said dolphins would be no safer under the plan than with the range of measures the industry has put in place in the form of voluntary closures and warning pingers on nets.

However, WWF NZ has called for trawling restrictions and tough controls on set nets, saying they are the biggest threat to the animals' survival.

It said the dolphin-watching and swimming industries last year earned $25m.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"