10 Dec 2008

NZ defends stance on tuna conservation measures

9:14 pm on 10 December 2008

New Zealand's delegation to negotiations in Korea to preserve tuna stocks in the Pacific has rejected suggestions it is not supporting conservation measures put forward by Pacific nations.

The Greenparty's fisheries spokesperson, Metiria Turei, says Pacific nations are calling for the closure of parts of the high seas as one of a number of measures designed to reduce the catch of Bigeye tuna by 30 per cent.

The head of the New Zealand delegation, Matthew Hooper, says is not rejecting the high seas proposal.

He says his group has raised questions about how effective it would be to close the pockets of high seas between the exclusive economic zones of nations such as Papua New Guinea, Nauru and Solomon Islands.

"If you close those areas and the fishing effort simply moves into the EEZs or on to other areas of the high seas where we know there is high by-catch of juvenile yellowfin and bigeye tuna, then there'll be no conservation or management benefit from that."

Mr Hooper says the closure proposal has a polarising effect and solicits strong objections from foreign fishing nations.

He says New Zealand wants to see some sort of conservation measures agreed to at this meeting and it is vital talks do not break down because of proposals that strongly divide the Commission's membership