Friday, August 13, 2010

The opposite of conservation

Under National, the Department of Conservation has become more business focused, establishing a commercial business unit to work with businesses to deliver "increased economic prosperity and conservation gain". Unfortunately, in some cases, the latter part of that statement seems to have been forgotten. According to Mike Joy in the Dominion Post this morning, DoC is licensing the fishing of a threatened species from the conservation estate:

The longfin [eel] is listed as a threatened species by the Conservation Department but inexplicably at the same time it is "managed" as a commercial fish species by the Fisheries Ministry.

Under this so-called management by Fisheries, longfin eels are showing all the classic signs of collapse: a decline in distribution, average size, biomass and recruitment as well as grossly altered sex ratios.

A further clear sign of fishery collapse is that Fisheries can't drop its quota limits fast enough for fishermen to be restricted by them (the fishery is declining so fast that fishermen can't catch enough to reach their quotas so the quotas have had no effect).

In an even more ludicrous turn of events, DOC has recently given consents for commercial eel fishermen to harvest longfins in the conservation estate.

This was driven by fishermen needing to find new places to fish because of declines in catch rates as they have progressively fished out the rest of the country.

As outrageous as that sounds, DOC receives money in the form of a concession payment from commercial fishermen to harvest a threatened endemic species in the conservation estate.

(Emphasis added)

Call me naive, but I thought the purpose of our conservation estate was to conserve, particularly when it came to threatened and endangered species. Instead, DoC is allowing them to be killed for private profit. That's not conservation, but the exact opposite.