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Our Ocean: A New Zealand Outlook: Tāmaki Makaurau - August 2021

We were very lucky to have snuck in our most recent Auckland event “Our Ocean: A NZ Perspective” on 4 August 2021 at GridAKL in Wynyard Quarter, before New Zealand went into lockdown. We had a great turnout and began the evening with refreshments from our sponsors at Good Buzz Kombucha and Zambrero.

The main event of the evening kicked off when we heard from Dr Andrew Jeffs, a Professor at the University of Auckland’s Institute of Marine Science, and Veronica Rotman, a Sustainable Seas National Panel Member and micro-plastics expert. The speakers had prepared a joint presentation to debunk the accuracy of the 2021 documentary Seaspiracy, and more particularly its relevance to the state of our ocean here in New Zealand.

They broke down the effects of the New Zealand fishing industry on the ocean and what sustainable fishing methods are available, such as aquaculture. They also addressed other ways that our lifestyles can affect the health of the ocean, including our textiles habits and care, plastic pollution and other polluting industries. The presentation set out how special New Zealand’s marine environment is - we have 17,000 different species, half of which are endemic (can only be found here).

It was explained how Seaspiracy raised valid and very real issues in the global conversation around the ocean, including industrial overfishing, bycatch, habitat degradation, illegal fishing and slavery - but acknowledged that the people behind the documentary had an agenda of veganism, which wouldn’t be achievable or sustainable for the large proportion of the world population who relies on seafood for survival.

Some of the claims made in Seaspiracy were analysed from a New Zealand perspective, including the claim that we will have ‘empty’ oceans by 2048. The speakers showed this to be based on a since-retracted study, although while some fish are unlikely to have disappeared by 2048, in New Zealand we may be empty of some fish stocks by then if we don’t improve quota management and improve our research and understanding of all stocks.

Another claim the speakers analysed was that the ocean floor is being destroyed - which was found to be an accurate finding when looking at fishing methods such as bottom trawling and dredging. This is a common method used in New Zealand, and the speakers recommended to avoid purchasing kaimoana caught using those methods - although acknowledged that for some people, the higher cost of fish products caught by other means can be prohibitive.

We rounded out the evening with Dallas Abel from LegaSea NZ, a non profit organisation dedicated to restoring the abundance, biodiversity and health of New Zealand’s marine environment. He talked to the audience about the campaigns that they have on the go, including against proposed changes to the quota management system. He also introduced the Kai Ika project, run from Westhaven Marina, an organisation that redistributes what would otherwise be food ‘waste’ (such as fish heads and frames) to communities who put it to good use in Auckland.

Our key actions from the event were:

  • Sign up to the LegaSea newsletter - a not for profit organisation established by the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council in 2012 to elevate public awareness of the issues that affect recreational fishers.

  • Ask food providers where their kaimoana comes from – start the conversation and accountability.

  • Support Kai Ika – donate unused fish frames and heads to feeding the community to reduce fish waste.

  • Volunteer at Our Seas Our Future Charitable Trust Board (100% volunteer run conservation organisation) – positions available to join their team.

  • Greenpeace – sign their petitions to Ban Bottom Trawling and Ban Plastic Bottles.

  • Chat to your friends & whānau about what you learnt in the presentation from Dr Andrew Jeffs and Veronica Rotman.


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