Feds Conference Highlights Sound Environmental Progress

There was a lot to celebrate at the recent Federation of Commercial Fishermen’s Conference in Nelson, not least that this fine organisation had reached the grand old age of 60.

In times where the industry is under fire by environmental NGOs, and often the wider public, for imagined or historic bad behaviour it is heartening to have recognition of the significant work the industry is doing in the environmental space.

The release at the conference of the fleet-wide programme to improve and demonstrate the industry’s mitigation of fishing risks to protected species was yet another example of that work.

Also heartening was the inclusion in the Federation programme of Trudi Webster from the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust. It is not well known that the industry voluntarily closed Yellow-eyed penguin habitat to set-netting around Codfish Island, nor that the industry, particularly Sanford, United and Talley’s supplies the Trust with fish to feed the starving birds.

However as a timely reminder that the bad press the industry receives is often absorbed by only a fraction of the population, hearing young marine photographer Tamzin Henderson speak was a breath of fresh air. This young woman is a great example of someone who didn’t choose to believe all she heard about an often-maligned industry and is now openly appreciative of the efforts the industry is making in environmental care. Tamzin owns Henderson’s, a boat chandlery and fishing supplies shop in Blenheim and is an accomplished wildlife photographer.

After the conference she wrote; “Yesterday I had the honour of attending, and speaking at the New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen conference in Nelson. I had so many great conversations about seabirds, from the old days of Mollymawks in the wheelhouse, to keeping storm-wrecked birds warm for release. These guys (and girls) are passionate, funny, kind and caring and while there are still things that can be improved, I know I’d much rather support a local fisherman, their family and community instead of eating untraceable fish caught overseas in marginal labour conditions.”

So, hold your heads up out there – you are doing a great job.