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The United States Court of International Trade has lifted a preliminary injunction which has been preventing the export to the US of certain New Zealand fish. 

Seafood New Zealand, the organisation representing New Zealand’s commercial fishers says the decision is a good result for the country’s seafood export market.

The case was brought by environmental group Sea Shepherd, alleging that the standards used in New Zealand to protect the critically endangered Māui dolphin were not compatible with similar US standards.

But NOAA (the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) recently found that New Zealand’s management standards do meet US requirements, issuing a favourable comparability assessment for New Zealand in January of this year.

Now that the Court has lifted the preliminary injunction, trade can resume in the nine species that were impacted.

Seafood New Zealand CEO Jeremy Helson says the process has been protracted, but the result is a vote of confidence in how we manage our fisheries in New Zealand.

“We were confident all along that our management systems in place to protect Māui dolphin were robust and comprehensive.  We are pleased that the US Government has agreed with that position and effectively endorsed the New Zealand management regime.

“Māui dolphin are a taonga species and the controls in place to protect them are strict.  On top of that, many of our commercial fishers have gone above and beyond, personally investing considerable effort into changing how they fish.   That includes changing fishing locations and working with NGOs who are developing technology to record up to date information about latest dolphin locations.”

Jeremy Helson.

The preliminary injunction had the potential to impact up to $2 million of seafood exports to the US of species caught on the west coast of the North Island. The species affected were snapper, trevally, tarakihi, hoki, warehou, spotted dogfish, barracouta, mullet, and gurnard.


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