20 Feb 2011

Greenpeace appalled at bigger bluefin tuna quota

6:02 am on 20 February 2011

Environmental group Greenpeace says the Ministry of Fisheries should ban all fishing of the critically endangered southern bluefin tuna, rather than raise the catch quota.

Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley says the Government has been part of international negotiations aimed at reducing the global catch by 20%.

But within that, he says, New Zealand has achieved a bigger share of the global catch and will be able to take 539 tonnes in the current year - up seven tonnes.

He says that's because New Zealand has led the way with very low quotas.

Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner Karli Thomas says that sends a shocking global message.

She says it is outrageous that the Government is haggling over a bigger slice of the pie, when the species is on the fast track to extinction.

Mr Heatley says measures adopted will rebuild the fishery over time.

The ministry is monitoring the species carefully, he says, and if there's no improvement it is prepared to cut the catch by a third in the next few years.