New Zealand's fishing industry practice is jeopardising our clean green brand, the Green Party said today.
International researchers have today identified New Zealand as one the world's areas most biologically and economically vulnerable to overfishing, while two US supermarket chains launched investigations into New Zealand fish imports in response to reports of foreign crews being exploited on Foreign Chartered Fishing Vessels (FCVs) in New Zealand waters.
"International customers look to New Zealand for high quality, environmentally sustainable, ethically produced food, but our fishing practice isn't holding up under scrutiny," said Green Party oceans spokesperson Gareth Hughes.
"Successive Governments have not done enough to protect our marine environment from overfishing − only 0.3 percent of our total marine environment are in no-take marine reserves, for example.
"Now New Zealand has been identified internationally as a 'hot spot' where 'the temptation to profit from overfishing outweighs the appetite for conservation'."
Mr Hughes also considers that successive Government's tolerance of poor labour practices involving foreign workers is also damaging our international reputation.
"Disgraceful stories of abuse of foreign workers on foreign charter vessels have been around for years, but Labour and National have been dragging their feet on this issue," said Mr Hughes.
Mr Hughes called for real action to come out of the current Government inquiry into the use of FCVs in New Zealand waters and urged the Government to pass the Marine Reserves Bill to lessen the risk of overfishing.
"Our '100% Pure' brand has an economic value of $20 billion, but we have to act to protect it," said Mr Hughes.