The seafood sector welcomes the Environment Aotearoa Report 2019 which shows most markers are improving for the environmental performance of New Zealand’s seafood industry.

The report, compiled three-yearly by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand, draws on interim reports in four fields; air and atmosphere, freshwater, marine and land.

The report confirmed 97 percent of New Zealand’s catch came from sustainable stocks.

Seafood New Zealand chief executive, Tim Pankhurst, said it was heartening that the report acknowledged that bycatch of endangered species had reduced. The industry is supportive of a range of measures to further protect endangered dolphins, including bringing forward the review of the Hector’s and Maui Dolphin Threat Management Plan.

“There has not been a Maui dolphin death attributed to fishing since 2002. Since then, a large area, 6000 square kilometres, has been closed to all commercial fishing and there is 100 percent observer coverage in the area deemed to be most at risk.

“The number of seabirds recorded caught by commercial fishing declined from more than 9000 in 2001 to 5000 in 2008, which the report rightly attributes to mitigation measures brought in during 2006 and 2008.

“From 2010/2011 to 15/16 estimated captures in the trawl fishery dropped by 27 percent and in the bottom longline by 24 percent.”

The report notes seabed trawling has reduced from 60,000 square kilometres in 1998 to 26,000 square kilometres in 2016.

Pankhurst said the industry had made huge strides in environmental practices over the years but there was still room for improvement.

“We do not shrink from our environmental responsibility. We are constantly seeking new and better ways of mitigating our effects on the marine environment and the birds and mammals we share it with."