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Orange Is The New Black

Series 2, Episode 1 Thirsty Bird 01 Sep 14 00:53:52

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Q+A: Shane Jones and Gareth Hughes interview

Published: 12:49PM Sunday October 21, 2012 Source: Q+A

GREG BOYED

You can't get much farther south than the Ross Sea. It's around one million square kilometres of pristine ocean at the top of Antarctica, and it's the topic of a documentary that's been playing recently in New Zealand theatres. The sea's managed by a 25-nation committee known as CCAMLR, and it's the subject of intense debate. CCAMLR wants to establish protected marine areas. The big meeting to decide this starts in Hobart tomorrow. But rather than sign on to an American plan, New Zealand has gone it alone with its own plan. Critics say it's less environmentally friendly than what the Americans proposed, leaving the fishing fleet free to plunder toothfish. The fishing industry, however, is backing New Zealand's plan, saying it protects both local jobs and a sustainable fishery in the Ross Sea. Foreign Minister Murray McCully was going to speak to us, but pulled out saying his diary had got too full. But happily this morning Labour MP and former chair of the Maori Fisheries Commission Shane Jones and the Green Party's Oceans Spokesman, Gareth Hughes, are both along to debate the issue. Good morning to you both. First of all, Gareth, what's so wrong with the New Zealand plan?

GARETH HUGHES - Green Party MP

You can see on the map. It's as if McCully's literally drawn a line around where the main fishing grounds are. It's as if he's focusing on protecting the fishing interest, which is a pretty small, pretty narrow interest. He's not there protecting this amazing ecosystem, the last ocean.

GREG

By doing this, though, you're following the Americans. That goes against everything the Greens are about, doesn't it?

GARETH

Well, I think it's bizarre that our government would walk out of a joint proposal with the Americans. It's a stated goal. We want to work with the Americans. Together, we could have actually had a good proposal on the table, but the shame is and the tragedy is now we've got three competing proposals on the CCAMLR table. It's going to be very hard to get a deal out of it, because New Zealand's focusing on protecting fishing interests, not protecting conservation.

GREG

Shane Jones, does this put exploitation over conservation? It's hardly the New Zealand way, if that's the way we're going.

SHANE JONES - Labour MP

The last CCAMLR meeting invited both the States and the Kiwis to go away and work up a proposal. The States laid down the law. It's not unreasonable for Kiwis to want to take their own science-based approach to a part of the global neighbourhood that is quite close to us. 70% of the Ross Sea is already not available to the fishing industry. The meeting that's coming in Hobart will be an opportunity, and I'm sure there'll be compromise. It's not unlike when Sandra Lee was the Conservation Minister, and Helen Clark intervened to enable a compromise to take place where the fishing industry continued to be in that part of the world. You've got to bear in mind, the guts of the science we've got as New Zealanders from that part of the world is by dint of the work that they're able to do as a consequence of joining up with the four vessels that are in that part of the world.

GREG

We'll get to the science in a minute. Let's talk about bucks first of all. The industry with the toothfish - $20 million a year out of a $1.5 billion annual industry. That's a fairly small slice, isn't it?

SHANE

The actual number is larger than that. There's four vessels, probably 40 people in each vessel. In the industry, you generally imagine there'll be full-time equivalents of another four to each person there. And you've got to bear in mind too that there's 20-odd people that are parties to this CCAMLR: the Norwegians, the Spanish, the Poms, the Aussies, the Russians, the Koreans. They're all down there fishing. And the crowd that had the best scientific-based approach, and even attested to by a host of CCAMLR members, are our own people. And I think what differs from where I come from and perhaps where Gareth comes from- I mean, I'm endeavouring to point out that rational use lies at the pith of the CCAMLR agreement, an agreement that's not New Zealand's exclusive agreement. We're just one party to it.

GREG

From the New Zealand point of view, Gareth, this is going to mean the end of the jobs if you get your way.

GARETH

Well, I'm not sure if Shane's aware that the three proposals on the CCAMLR table next week, none of them are reducing the toothfish quota, none of them are saying you can't catch toothfish. It's about which areas of this amazing ecosystem do we protect. You're right, it's a very small slice of New Zealand's fishing exports. It's only 0.17% of our total fishing catch. The risk is because we're going there protecting fishing interests, not the environment, and we've got US supermarkets boycotting our Ross Sea-caught toothfish at the moment, we risk throwing away our international credibility on Antarctic protection, and we risk throwing away that clean, green brand so we can fish into the future.

GREG

Let's look at the numbers, let's look at the sustainability. The numbers are current toothfish stock: 80% of their own fish population. In 30 years, it will still 50%. Scientists say that is still sustainable. We're on the right track now, according to the scientists.

GARETH

Well, I think that's very debatable. I think it's incredible-

GREG

If those numbers are right, no it's not.

GARETH

What those numbers say is they want to take out half of the entire toothfish population, and we don't know what the impact's going to be on the penguins, on the seals, on the orcas, which are plummeting in population at the moment. Taking out half the population of the top predator is going to have a huge impact on the environment. The science is very debatable. And let's not forget we still have not caught a single toothfish egg, lava or juvenile under 4 years old. This place is covered under ice for nine months of the year. There's huge gaps in our knowledge.

GREG

What's the big issue here? Is it the fishing or the impact of the boats being down there and smashing through the ice? What's most key here?

SHANE

Well, it's probably going to turn into a debate about values. Let's cut to the chase. Do we want this part of the world exclusively locked up? And I understand where Gareth is coming from, but the tragedy is that there will be illegal fishing down there. Just because the Kiwis decide or are made to stop fishing there, don't for a moment think that's going to stop the pirates of the world going down there and fishing. It's happening in other parts around Antarctica as we speak. So do we, as New Zealanders, use our science-based approach and continue there, or do we completely withdraw in the sort of naïve belief that other pirate of the world won't go there? That's a major problem.

GREG

By pirates, who do you mean? We've got 25 people in CCAMLR. Are we talking about people outside of that or people in that organisation?

SHANE

There are always unscrupulous entities fishing there.

GREG

Who?

SHANE

Well, take, for example, the one that the Aussies chased a few years ago right over. As I recall, it was a Spanish master. And there's always going to be a case of, 'Do we stay in the game, or do we pull out?' Now, I actually think New Zealand's got fantastic credentials here. But the reality is we can't control everyone else that's a party to this agreement. I suppose one problem is that Gareth is right in the sense that there are various proposals, but it's what dangers and risks do you pose if you continue to constrict the area for the fishing industry out of New Zealand? Only four boats, I might add. And if we stop, there's no guarantee that other nations are going to stop.

GREG

Gareth, he's got a good point there. If we're there, we have some say, some control, some presence. We can't just pretend we can shut the door and keep the world out, because it's a big hunk of ocean.

GARETH

I don't think it's a very good argument at all.

GREG

Why not?

GARETH

It's a good argument for continuing slavery. We should participate in slavery-

GREG

No, I don't think it's anything to do with slavery.

GARETH

The fact is that New Zealand has been doing things to impact and police illegal, unrecorded fishing. Helen Clark took an Orion flyover there some years back. The fact that we're participating isn't a good argument.

GREG

But if we pull out altogether in such a massive, massive area, and we just go, 'We're not going to be there. We don't have presence,' surely we're just opening the door.

GARETH

But no one is talking about pulling out entirely. No one is talking about reducing the toothfish quotas. It's about which part of this fantastic ecosystem, the last ocean, do we protect. And the New Zealand Government and who knows what the Labour Party thinks. They haven't said a single word about the Ross Sea in Parliament this term. There's no mention on the website. I can't work out what their position is. The New Zealand Government position is to draw a line around where the main fishing grounds are and say, 'Everywhere else where we don't exploit, everywhere else where we don't impact, we'll protect.' It's only a sanctuary on paper, and it's going to have a terrible impact on the negotiations next week.

SHANE

The producer of the recent documentary had publicly said that he can't actually fault the science lying behind the New Zealand fishing industry's presence in Antarctica, but this debate isn't about the fishing industry. From his perspective, this debate is excluding in, that particular area, a whole bunch of human activity, and he's totally entitled to that view. I've no doubt that once our Kiwi negotiators and the Americans get together in Hobart, the Americans are probably playing to the current election they have, and, by and large, they'll probably forget about it after they've had Obama's election victory.

GREG

From an international point of view, Shane, does it make sense for us to forget the pirates, forget the science, hands off? It looks better for us internationally, otherwise we sort of do queer our pitch if we stay in there and hack into the fish.

SHANE

Yeah, but the Kiwis are one of 20+ members of CCAMLR.

GREG

Yes, but I'm just talking about the perspective of New Zealand and what we've always pushed to the whole wide world. If we do take a hands-off approach, isn't that going to be better in the long term?

SHANE

I actually think the Kiwis are in a fantastic position of leadership, etc. They used a science-based approach. The science around that particular fishery is considerable, not only based on published papers from our own scientific community, but acknowledged by the Aussies and a host of others. Now, if it comes to pass that we completely lock it up, etc, well, that will be a decision that's made on the basis of values. The fishing industry are there at the moment. I don't think that their impact is anywhere near as destructive as Gareth would have it. I mean, if you take that money out of the industry, and it's vastly more than $20 million, I mean, what is the industry to do? It can retire back home and find fresh activities. They're not going to find activities with Gareth's approach where they're banning aquaculture and they're banning fish farming.

GREG

So is Gareth's approach anti-business? Is that what you're saying?

SHANE

Well, you already know my views on that.

GREG

We'll take that as a yes, shall we, Shane? [SHANE SMILES]

GREG

What's going to happen in Hobart? Which way is this going to go? Is there such a thing as a compromise in this?

GARETH

Well, the way CCAMLR works is you need a compromise with the 25 nations as part of the Antarctic Treaty signatories. The fact is, we've got three proposals on the table because McCully was forced by his Cabinet to walk out of the joint US proposal. It's going to be a mess, I fear, and the New Zealanders are acting as obstructionists, because we're out there to simply protect these narrow, small fishing interests, not to protect conservation. We were a world leader once in protecting the Antarctic continent. Now we're failing to protect the oceans. And the New Zealand position is going to mean that it's less likely to get a good outcome from CCAMLR.

GREG

Now, if we can have a bit of a look at this, there was an ad played, and you [GARETH] had something to do with this. This was the ad played, and Shane Jones has been absolutely critical of this. Let's have a look at the dubbed version of this advert.

(Television commercial plays.)

'Some fishermen like to stretch the truth a bit, but Sealord stretch it this much. Sealord's motto could be never let the whole truth get in the way of a good story.

For Sealord, sustainability is mostly about sustainability of their image.

While they keep selling tuna caught in a way that indiscriminately kills other sea life, that's not good, eh?'

GREG

So, did that do anyone any good, really? I hear the people working down there have been abused on the street and all sorts. Did that serve any purpose?

GARETH

I think it's debatable whether Greenpeace got their point with the video. I mean, all I did was share it online, and Shane Jones attacked me for sharing it, saying some pretty outrageous things. But what is Shane is saying is you shouldn't be able to critique this company, you shouldn't be able to question their standards. He's trying to us copyright as a bullying tactic. That's not the Kiwi way. If Sealord is comfortable with their position on many issues, they should be able to talk about it. Let's talk about the issues with Sealord.

GREG

Shane Jones?

SHANE

Um, I think Gareth ended up doing the bidding of the green priests, otherwise known as Greenpeace. They are an international franchise organisation, and they raise a great deal of money from our country, and they should expect to be criticised, as we are. Did the workers deserve to be dissed by the Green Party? No, they didn't. I mean, I think it's hypocritical at one level. Russel, someone I considerably respect as their leader, is up in a manufacturing inquiry, and Gareth is out there acquiescing with the deprecation and humiliation of New Zealand workers. You can't have it both ways.

GREG

All right. Shane Jones and Gareth Hughes, thank you both very much for coming in.

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