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United States lifts ban on New Zealand fish exports – Jones, McClay

A temporary ban on some New Zealand fish exports to the United States has been lifted in a win for commonsense, Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones and Trade and Agriculture Minister Todd McClay say.

The United States’ Court of International Trade lifted a preliminary injunction that temporarily stopped trade for nine fish species, including popular species like snapper, caught in the Māui dolphin habitat along the West Coast of the North Island.

“This is a win for New Zealand’s sustainably caught seafood and will help with the seafood sector’s contribution to our export-led recovery,” Mr Jones says.

The case in the US was brought by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in May 2020 against the US Government and alleged New Zealand’s measures to protect Māui dolphins from fishing threats did not meet US standards for imported seafood products.

“While the temporary halt affected only a relatively small portion of overall fisheries trade to the United States, we’re pleased to see trade of all our sustainably caught seafood resume. I am pleased to see commonsense prevail in the face of a spurious claim by environmental activists. This ban cost New Zealand in the region of $2 million in exports,” Mr Jones says.

“Lifting the ban means seafood exporters will no longer have to provide a certificate of origin when sending seafood products to the United States, and I’m pleased to see this step gone,” Mr McClay says.

The decision to remove the injunction followed an assessment, undertaken by the US Government at the New Zealand Government’s request, which showed protections for Māui dolphins were comparable with, met and even exceeded, the US standards under its Marine Mammal Protection Act.

“It’s the second assessment of this kind on our Māui dolphin protections, and both have shown our measures are as good as those of the United States,” Mr Jones says.

“New Zealand has worked hard to help protect Māui dolphins from fishing-related risks and this decision reaffirms we have good protections in place. Our protections for Māui dolphins include introducing onboard cameras and banning set nets and trawl fishing within core Māui dolphin habitat along the North Island’s west coast,” Mr Jones says.

“Vessels operating in this area have been required to operate cameras or carry an observer since 2019 and we’ve had no observed captures of Māui dolphins during this time.”

 

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