National | Animals

Hoki fishing quota reduced

The fishing industry has reduced the West Coast hoki quota by 22 percent after skippers of hoki trawlers in the area have been reporting reduced catches of the fish.

After a discussion with hoki quota owners, Te Ohu Kaimoana facilitated a hui yesterday for iwi to work towards a collective response alongside Moana New Zealand and Sealord yesterday.

The hui included representatives from Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngati Porou, Ngāti Manawa, Rangitaane o Te Ika a Maui, Te Arawa, Ngāpuhi, Pare Hauraki, Te Aupouri, Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Maniapoto and the Iwi Collective Partnership.

Te Ohu Kaimoana Te Mātārae Dion Tuuta says, "Like iwi, what the industry actually wants more than anyone is a sustainable and abundant fish population and today's actions demonstrate that.  Their livelihoods depend upon sustainability."

Forest & Bird chief conservation adviser Kevin Hackwell says the reduction could be due to warmer sea temperatures affecting breeding.

"For years we've known that warmer sea temperatures mean less successful breeding for hoki.”

He says in the late 1990s and early 2000s when sea temperatures warmed over the main hoki breeding grounds off south Westland, scientists warned that hoki stocks were going to collapse due to poor breeding.

"Back then, the industry fought tooth and nail to retain their quota levels rather than respond responsibly to a changing environment.  What happened?  The hoki fishery plummeted, as predicted."

Hackwell commends the industry for taking a different approach this time.

“However, the worry is that the voluntary cuts may not be enough to maintain the hoki stocks if the breeding has failed."

The reduced quota will begin from October 1 while the Ministry for Primary Industries and scientists assess the reduction.