Monday, April 03, 2017

A conflict of interest

We've known for a while that the Ministry of Primary Industries has been captured by the industries it is supposed to regulate. But how bad is it? They effectively allow the fishing industry to "monitor" itself:

Greenpeace will take a complaint to the Auditor General after discovering the company responsible for monitoring large chunks of the fishing industry is wholly owned by the industry's biggest lobby group.

The company, named FishServe, has been contracted by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the past 20 years to monitor overfishing, take catch reports, manage quotas and decide on licences.

A Greenpeace investigation found the company is not only owned by the industry group Seafood New Zealand, but it operates from the same office and shares staff.


Greenpeace New Zealand executive director Russel Norman said he believed the situation was an example of "regulatory capture", borne from a "web of complex relationships" between MPI and industry.

"What it means in practice is that, in order to prosecute fishing companies for legal breaches, the government regulator, MPI, has to rely on data collected and provided by a company owned by the fishing companies themselves, FishServe," he said.

It gets worse: FishServe also has regulatory powers around licensing and overfishing - which MPI has effectively devolved to the industry's largest lobby group.

This is an obvious conflict-of-interest and it needs to be ended immediately. MPI should do its fucking job of regulating the fishing industry. And if they're unwilling to do that, we should sack them and get people who are.