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Orange roughy sustainability rating slated

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/12/2016

Forest and Bird has attacked a decision to certify the New Zealand orange roughy fishery as sustainable.

The Marine Stewardship Council, an international non-profit organisation, says around 60 per cent of the total New Zealand catch has achieved its certification for sustainable fishing practices and could carry its ecolabel.

But Katrina Goddard, lead researcher for the Forest and Bird's Best Fish Guide, says the fishery is one of the country's worst.

"Any certification scheme that calls the orange roughy fishery sustainable has lost all credibility," she said.

"Orange roughy are a long lived, late breeding fish vulnerable to overfishing."

She said bottom trawling for orange roughy destroyed seafloor and seamount habitats, and the fishery killed seabirds, including Salvin's, Chatham Islands and white-capped albatross.

"Forest and Bird recently assessed orange roughy for its Best Fish Guide and it came out as one of the worst species," she said.

"This was based on the most recent information from the Ministry for Primary Industries."

In giving the certification, MSC said New Zealand orange roughy was the first orange roughy fisheries globally to be assessed to be of MSC standard.

It said certification was recognition of more than 20 years of management improvements and scientific innovation.

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