NZ Federation celebrates its 70th

The New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen celebrated 70 years of advocacy and camaraderie at its conference and AGM in Blenheim on Thursday 1 June. Since 1952, the federation has brought together thousands of passionate fishers from across the country to advocate for industry and environmental issues that affect New Zealand’s waters, fisheries, and regional economies.

Federation President Doug Saunders-Loder says the grass-roots organisation plays an essential role in championing the country’s inshore fishers.

“Over the years, the federation has pushed for key reforms that benefit the environment and the industry, such as the creation of the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone and the creation of the Quota Management system in 1986, which has been about setting annual sustainability caps on catches.

“But federation membership is also an important way for people spending long, gruelling hours on the water to reconnect with friends across the country and feel like they are a part of something bigger.”

Minister of Oceans and Fisheries Rachel Brooking attended the event and gave her first speech to an organisation in her new ministerial role. She spoke to the opportunities and challenges facing fishers, both environmental and regulatory.

“It is tough for a number of seafood businesses right now, and I know that smaller fishing operators in particular face challenges like rising costs, the impacts of the way we use land on the marine ecosystem; and difficulties getting access to skilled staff,” she said.

“Since becoming the minister, I have been pleased to see the effort you’re making to fish more selectively – whether you’re tweaking your gear or changing your fishing practices.”

While the minister’s speech was respectfully received by those in the room, Doug took the opportunity to share some of fishers’ most pressing concerns in his meeting with the minister following her speech. Doug says his job as president is to ensure fishers’ voices are heard, and to make sure their insights and expertise make their way to decision-makers – to add a critical ‘frontline perspective’ to tomes of discussion papers.

The rest of the conference was filled with informative discussions on the latest research and technology, updates from the under-35s Young Fish network and more.

The most animated session was the hour-long Q&A with representatives from Maritime New Zealand. MNZ investigation into watchkeeping requirements for commercial and

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