Published: 17:16, April 3, 2024 | Updated: 18:01, April 3, 2024
US lifts NZ fish exports ban due to better dolphin protection
By Xinhua

A cod fish sits on ice at the Portland Fish Exchange, in Portland, Maine. (PHOTO / AP)

WELLINGTON - The United States has lifted a temporary ban on some New Zealand fish exports due to measures to meet the standards of Maui dolphin protection.

"Lifting the ban means seafood exporters will no longer have to provide a certificate of origin when sending seafood products to the United States, New Zealand Agriculture Minister Todd McClay said on Wednesday.

The United States' Court of International Trade lifted a preliminary injunction that temporarily stopped trade for nine fish species, including popular species like snapper, caught in the Maui dolphin habitat along the west coast of New Zealand's North Island

The decision to remove the injunction followed an assessment, undertaken by the United States government at the New Zealand government's request, which showed protections for Maui dolphins were comparable with, met and even exceeded, the US standards under its Marine Mammal Protection Act, McClay said.

The United States' Court of International Trade lifted a preliminary injunction that temporarily stopped trade for nine fish species, including popular species like snapper, caught in the Maui dolphin habitat along the west coast of New Zealand's North Island.

The case in the US was brought by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in May 2020 against the US government and alleged New Zealand's measures to protect Maui dolphins from fishing threats did not meet US standards for imported seafood products.

"This is a win for New Zealand's sustainably caught seafood," said Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones, adding that it will help with the seafood sector's contribution to New Zealand's export-led recovery.

Jones said he is pleased to see trade of all sustainably caught seafood resume, although the temporary halt affected only a relatively small portion of overall fisheries trade to the US and cost New Zealand in the region of 2 million NZ dollars ($1.19 million) in exports.

New Zealand has worked hard to help protect Maui dolphins from fishing-related risks, measures including introducing onboard cameras and banning set nets and trawl fishing within core Maui dolphin habitat along the North Island's west coast, he said.

"Vessels operating in this area have been required to operate cameras or carry an observer since 2019," Jones said, adding that no captures of Maui dolphins were observed during this time.