Leaked cabinet papers won’t help ACT | The Jackal

19 Jun 2021

Leaked cabinet papers won’t help ACT

It was somewhat amusing to see the Act Party completely misread the room this week when they leaked a Labour Party document concerning our oceans and fisheries. It outlined the Government's intention to discuss several marine policies at cabinet, the most controversial being the installation of 300 cameras on commercial fishing vessels to ensure skippers report bycatch properly.

During the last Government the policy to keep an eye on commercial fishers was halted by NZ First, who had secretly been taking bribes (through a proxy foundation) from fishing industry heavyweight, Talley’s, and its managing director Peter Talley.

However now that Winston Peters has been voted out the Government can get on with doing what’s right, namely making policy to protect our marine environment. It's no small task, but even with the Act Party trying to suck all the oxygen from the room, David Parker has been doing well to promote the initiatives, which will undoubtedly gain not just widespread public support in New Zealand, but international support as well.

Today, RNZ reported:

Fishing vessel cameras aim to curb catch dumping

Minister for Oceans and Fisheries David Parker said cameras would be installed on 300 vessels to ensure the unwanted bycatch was not thrown overboard instead.

Parker told Nine to Noon skippers would have no excuse not to follow the new rules once the cameras were in place.

"It's primarily about getting better outcomes with less discarding, but it also will have a benefit to encourage all fishers if they do accidentally catch a sea bird or a dolphin to report that, because it will be captured on the video footage and there will be no doubt about it," he said.

The rollout follows the installation of cameras on 20 vessels fishing in Māui dolphin habitats in 2019.

Greenpeace Aotearoa welcomed the move but wanted to see cameras on all commercial fishing vessels to ensure rules were followed.

Of course it’s not just environmental groups who’re for the most part welcoming these changes. A majority of voters also want an end to illegal fishing practices that are detrimental to not just our marine environment, but New Zealand’s clean and green image as well. Despite this obvious support, the Act Party still went ahead with their ignorant press release anyway.

On Thursday, Scoop reported:

ACT Announces Government’s Agenda For Fishing Policy

“The ACT Party can today release the Government’s agenda when it comes to fishing policy,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

ACT has been leaked a document from Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker which outlines the papers he is about to take to Cabinet.

“Parker plans to take seven papers to Cabinet which outline a range of initiatives, from new marine reserves and mandatory monitoring of boats in New Zealand waters with cameras.

“The Minister seems to have consulted Labour MPs before consulting with the industry.

The Act Party has completely ignored the bad example set by NZ First by similarly appearing to conspire with the fishing industry in order to undermine these worthwhile initiatives. As if the warning of Winston Peters’ downfall wasn’t enough…the Act Party seems to not understand that politicians who cuddle up to fishing industry cowboys are punished at the polls.

There is no question that NZ First lost not just their ministerial portfolios but also their position in Parliament precisely because they got into bed with vested interests. But despite this fact, David Seymour has decided to advocate for a continuance of environmentally damaging and unsustainable fishing practices, which are obviously not in New Zealand or the world's best interest.

Opposing these initiatives at the behest of fishing industry cowboys isn't just environmentally foolish, it’s politically stupid as well.

The Labour led Government putting an end to bycatch dumping and ensuring that our seafood products can be better marketed overseas is inevitable...so why would Seymour undermine his own country and the Act Party’s chances for re-election by going into bat for an industry that must change?

If you care about our marine environment, please sign the Greenpeace petition to call on the NZ Government to commit to implementing cameras on the whole commercial fishing fleet before the end of their term in 2023.