20 September, 2009

The New York Times on Monday apologized to the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council for a 9 September story that painted the country’s hoki fishery in a negative light.

In a letter to Times Science Editor Laura Chang, the council said “From Deep Pacific, Ugly and Tasty, With a Catch,” written by William Broad, was riddled with omissions, errors and distortions.

The council lambasted Broad for quoting four environmental groups but neglecting to contact the council, any of its member companies or the Marine Stewardship Council, which certified New Zealand’s hoki fishery as well managed and sustainable.

“It makes perfect sense that the New Zealand seafood industry wishes that it had been contacted directly for comment on hoki issues,” said Chang in a letter to the council.

“There was no intention of slighting the people in the fishing industry of New Zealand,” she added. “We feel the article gave a fair and accurate glimpse into the challenge of meeting consumer demand for fish.”

Also on Monday, the environmental NGO Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) defended the New Zealand hoki fishery, calling it one of the world’s best managed harvests, despite recent declines in hoki stocks.

“With the strong support of leading fishing companies, managers cut quotas deeply, reducing fishing mortality by 50 percent between 2003 and 2007,” said Lani Asato, SFP’s director of communications and development. “With more fish left in the water, the stock was able to rebuild to healthy levels this year. Environmental impacts are also being addressed through habitat and species protection measures. For example, New Zealand has put more of its seas off limits to bottom trawling than any other country.”