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Forest & Bird is welcoming a fishing industry commitment to reduce the West Coast hoki quota by 22 percent, but is worried it may have come too late.

“For years we’ve known that warmer sea temperatures mean less successful breeding for hoki,” says Forest & Bird’s chief conservation adviser Kevin Hackwell.

Mr Hackwell says that in the late 1990s and early 2000s when sea temperatures warmed over the main hoki breeding grounds off south Westland, scientists warned that hoki stocks were going to collapse due to poor breeding.

“Back then, the industry fought tooth and nail to retain their quota levels rather than respond responsibly to a changing environment.”

“What happened? The hoki fishery plummeted, as predicted.”

During the early 2000s, Forest & Bird fought against the Marine Stewardship Council’s ‘green tick’ certification of hoki because the fishery was collapsing, and the industry was making things worse by opposing moves to reduce their catch levels.

“We therefore commend the industry for taking a different approach this time.  However, the worry is that the voluntary cuts may not be enough to maintain the hoki stocks if the breeding has failed.”

Mr Hackwell says this is a stark reminder of the reality of climate change as we continue to have record warm years.

“Climate change is having big impacts on our natural environment, and therefore our key primary industries and therefore on people’s livelihoods.”

“In order to protect nature and people, it’s critical we do all we can to keep warming to no more than 1.5 degrees, and this means making big emissions cuts, now.”

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