New Zealand

NZ First must be kept out of fishing and ocean portfolios – Greenpeace Aotearoa

Greenpeace is urging the National Party to keep New Zealand First out of any oceans or fisheries portfolios – citing previous examples of Winston Peters’ party pandering to fishing industry interests and blocking much-needed ocean protection.

With the special vote count confirming that National will need NZ First to form a government, Greenpeace oceans campaigner Ellie Hooper says the public and political leaders should be reminded that NZ First cannot be trusted to act in the interests of ocean health. 

“Last time NZ First had a seat at the table, it was revealed that the party received tens of thousands of dollars in donations from fishing company Talley’s – and then acted in ways that supported fishing industry interests over ocean health,” says Hooper.

“This included delaying the rollout of cameras on boats, which would hold the fishing industry accountable when coral or endangered animals such as dolphins, sea lions and turtles get hauled up or killed in nets. Disturbingly NZ First also pushed to get a Talley’s boat that had trawled illegally in protected areas taken off an international blacklist of disreputable fishing vessels.”

“Right now, the ocean is facing increasing threats from climate change, pollution and destructive fishing practices, and marine life is paying the price –  including fish populations, coral forests, mammals such as dolphins and seabirds like the albatross. With all this at risk, there is no way NZ First should be at the helm of ocean decisions, they simply cannot be trusted to do the right thing for the ocean and all the life it supports.”

In February 2020, while NZ First was in coalition with the then Labour Government, it was revealed Talley’s donated nearly $27,000 to the NZ First Foundation that funded the NZ First party. NZ First MP Shane Jones also received money from the fishing industry to fund his 2017 campaign. 

At the time, Greenpeace highlighted the potential conflict of interest that NZ First was bringing to the Cabinet table and called on the then Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to launch an external review of fishing decisions related to Talley’s.

That same year Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash blamed NZ First for slowing the rollout of cameras on boats in a leaked phone call. In response, NZ First MP Shane Jones told Stuff he was an “apostle of industry” and tended to represent industry in tough decisions around new legislation. 

This election cycle, NZ First received a donation of $50,000 from P J Vela, founding member of commercial fishing company Vela Fishing. 

“As the new Government goes through the process of forming a coalition and assigning Ministerial portfolios, New Zealanders are looking for integrity and honesty from our new Ministers. People want to know that those in charge are serious about looking after the ocean so it can recover and thrive and everyone can catch a fish for years to come. 

“We need bold action from political leaders to protect the ocean for the future and this includes getting destructive bottom trawling off seamounts and out of the Hauraki Gulf along with keeping the industry accountable by rolling out cameras to the full fishing fleet. Our future and the future of ocean health depends on it.”

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