Editorial: Another 'positive outcome'

Last updated 08:49 26/11/2012

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Primary Industries Minister David Carter has shown it is not just young women with a cause that he ignores.

He also seems to have ignored the advice of government officials - admittedly not his own - and scientists in this country and overseas. And a fellow Cabinet minister.

Mr Carter, the man who rebuffed Marlborough Sounds teenager Leona Plaisier's plea to simply accept a petition, appears to have gone out on a limb to keep happy the fishing companies that own quotas to catch squid in the Southern Ocean. He has decreed a 140 per cent increase in squid fishing next year, despite official papers showing this may devastate populations of the world's rarest sea lion, which gets caught in the nets.

The Conservation Department raised alarm over the plan to increase the catch, particularly because its scientists have no faith in the "exclusion" devices in the nets designed to let out any sea lions caught.

Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson, although not one of the heavyweights of the National Cabinet, even pleaded with Mr Carter to be allowed into a meeting with Deepwater Group Ltd, a consortium of fishing companies.

In a review of the Primary Industries Ministry policy, a DOC scientist says the executive summary is simplistic and brushes over the complexity of the issue. A Otago University zoologist claims the papers he received under the Official Information Act show the ministry had ignored the science and the concerns raised by the various submissions and were prepared to "go it alone".

It appears the minister has shown again this Government's willingness to put aside conservation concerns to ensure fishing companies have the opportunity to prosper.

This is the same government that tried to get heavy when the Marlborough District Council decided to stand by its own planning documents and oppose the NZ King Salmon proposal to develop nine new fish farms in the Marlborough Sounds, eight of them in areas where marine farming is prohibited. Mr Carter told an aquaculture conference this month he wanted "a positive outcome" from the independent panel hearing the application.

When Leona Plaisier asked him to accept her petition signed by 11,000 people opposing the expansion, he declined because he wanted to "remain neutral".

As it turns out, the minister has treated her the same as scientists, officials and ministers. She is in good company.

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- The Marlborough Express


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