14 Feb 2012

Council says concerns over eating fish unfounded

10:35 am on 14 February 2012

The Seafood Council says a report it commissioned shows people should not be concerned about the environmental impact of eating fish.

Environmental group Forest and Bird last week released its Best Fish Guide which was critical of some fishing practices and sustainability of certain species.

The Seafood Council says the report it commissioned shows that the environmental impact of harvesting wild fisheries is less than other animal productions, such as dairy or meat.

Chief executive Peter Boedeker says that the harvesting of fish in New Zealand is sustainable and people should not be concerned about eating it.

"If the New Zealand consumer is concerned about eating fish - and there's lots of attacks on seafood production at the moment - they should rest assured that from an environmental point of view, it is very benign.

"It's certainly more benign than it is compared to dairy and meat production."

But Forest and Bird on Tuesday rejected the Seafood Council report's findings, saying it has not used up-to-date information.

Marine conservation advocate Katrina Subedar says the council has also not taken fish stock trends into account.

"The simple fact is, just because we can't see the effects of bottom trawling, they are there and biodiversity is lost.

"This report has not used the latest ministerial report - it has failed to use MAF's own fishery report ... and even the NIWA reports which look at the exact effects of fisheries on the habitat."

Forest and Bird says its ecological assessment of 78 commercial fish was based on the latest Ministry of Fisheries stock assessments.