Tarakihi at a Wellington supermarket (Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson)

The Bulletin: Questionable new fishing quotas in effect

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: New fishing quotas in effect today, it’s not to late to vote so go and sort it out, and Shane Jones vows revenge after gentle reprimand.

New fishing catch limits come into effect today, particularly targeting the under-threat tarakihi. The details of that threatened status were covered by The Spinoff a few months ago, with stocks down to 16% of the pre-fishing biomass (the measurement used to determine the overall health of the fishery.) Anything under 20% is considered to be overfished by MPI, so by the government’s own estimate tarakihi are in trouble.

However, the reduced catch limits don’t reflect that danger, say some advocates. Radio NZ reports lobby group Legasea wanted a 40% reduction in the commercial fishing catch – instead they got 10%. They say that level of reduction will hold back efforts to help the fishery recover, and that the species had been “mismanaged for decades under the Quota Management System.”

Fisheries minister Stuart Nash disagrees, saying sustainability was at the heart of his decision. And the fishing industry were terrified at the prospect of a cut like 40%, and say they’re looking at other mechanisms on top of the reduced quota to allow the fishery to rebuild itself, reports Radio NZ.

It also isn’t just tarakihi limits that are changing. MPI’s website has a full list of what is coming into effect today, and a few small details in it are fascinating – for example the total allowable catch of Orange Roughy has risen – a decision that infuriated Greenpeace because the destructive practice of bottom trawling is used to catch that type of fish. Orange Roughy is a really symbolic species for these debates, because it was overfished so ruthlessly the population collapsed. It could similarly take many years to assess whether the reduced tarakihi catch limits have allowed the fishery to recover. For consumers concerned about that, you can always vote with your wallet and not buy it, much like what many in the past did with Orange Roughy.

If you haven’t got your local body voting papers yet in the mail, you can still vote. The Spinoff has put together a simple guide as to how you can do that, and it really is simple – you just have to get on with it now. As previously discussed, Local Government NZ are targeting this Saturday as ‘voting day’ – as anything after that you’ll be starting to cut it a bit fine. And if you don’t know who to vote for, use Policy Local – it makes doing your research a whole lot easier. Seriously, vote.

Cabinet minister Shane Jones has been given a gentle reprimand by the PM over his comments to a forestry forum, covered in yesterday’s Bulletin. The NZ Herald reports that Jacinda Ardern said the comments “sailed too close to the wind,” and would be giving him a copy of the Cabinet Manual to study while on holiday. Meanwhile, Jones himself has accepted the censure by vowing revenge on his enemies in the industry, so all in all a fairly normal day for the coalition government.

A trial programme aimed at revitalising regional banking has been announced, though at this stage the scale is still small. Radio NZ reports that four regional banking hubs (in Opunake, Martinborough, Stoke, and Twizel) will be put in place for 12 months, providing basic services and transaction facilities, with six major banks participating in the trial. Perhaps crucially, there will be a support person on hand available to help those coming in work the Smart ATMs.

Anti-coal activists are furious at a decision to allow Bathurst Coal to buy land to expand their operations, reports Stuff. The coal will be used to power dairy factories, which largely still use coal boilers to turn milk into powder. The purchase of grazing land near Coalgate (near Darfield in Canterbury) will extend the life of the mine out to 2035. Coal Action Network Aotearoa says it makes a mockery of efforts to reduce use of fossil fuels.

For those in Dunedin, this is the big mayoral debate to watch. The ODT has a full video and write-up of the Chamber of Commerce forum, which unlike other mayoral forums included pretty much everyone on the ballot. Interestingly for a business-focused audience, the big questions picked out were around climate change and resilience.

An iconic Bay of Plenty business is in danger of going under, devastating the town that it shares a name with. The BOP Times (paywalled) reports Maketu Pies has gone into receivership, putting at risk the largest employer in town. It’s a staunchly local business, and some of those spoken to in the story say that pretty much everyone in Maketu will know someone who has worked there. It’s possible that a sale of a brand will save the business, which in the interim will continue trading.

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Right now on The Spinoff: Peter McKenzie asks whether calls will now grow following the climate strike for more confronting direct action. Anna Knox conducts a survey of the art world and finds significant gender bias and lack of diversity. Dr Mike Joy issues a plea for scientists to be listened to (for once) on freshwater management. Daniel Meech reports on the refusal of Auckland University to remove white supremacist posters from campus.

And if you’re deep in the reality TV universe, you’ll absolutely love this from Alex Casey. It is, perhaps, a culmination of everything The Real Pod has built towards for many years – a bewildering journey through the social connections that bind together various characters and shows.

For a feature today, an example of how social media apps are providing scant but vital pieces of information from locked-down Xinjiang in China. The situation there is one of mass repression of the Uyghur population, and many forms of communication are blocked. But as this piece on Coda shows, small glimpses sometimes do escape thanks to platforms like TikTok. Here’s an excerpt:

One of the most striking videos Yasin found was posted by a Xinjiang police department’s official account. Armed police officers, who appear to be mostly Uyghur, declare their loyalty to the Party. The caption: “Swear to the motherland to protect the people’s peace.”

Another official video shows mostly Uyghur police dancing before the Chinese flag. A sign above them suggests it’s part of a group psychological support session — a telling detail, given Uyghur police are routinely required to arrest and detain their own people.

Football in New Zealand is looking at the next massive step forward, with players speaking out about getting a team into Australia’s W-League. Newsroom has reported on the various movements around creating the first professional women’s team in the country, with the Phoenix seen as a key part of making it happen. A major problem for the continued development of the game in New Zealand is a lack of local professional pathways for players – currently those who manage to make a career out of the game have to do so by going overseas.

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