The BBC article reported on a leaked New Zealand government memo, which they alleged casts doubts on the sustainability of the New Zealand Hoki fishery. This is simply untrue. The memo referenced in the article makes no mention of the hoki fishery at all. In fact, the fishery referenced in the memo operates inshore and primarily catches species such as dogfish, eaten almost exclusively in New Zealand, often in local fish and chip shops. Hoki is caught by completely different boats operating with different gear further offshore in deeper water and outside the ranges of the dolphins.
Jim Cannon, CEO of SFP said: “There is no connection between the situation of these dolphins and the McDonalds business and attempts to link two are simply dishonest. There is no doubt Maui dolphins in particular are in trouble and that New Zealand regulators and fisheries need to do more to eliminate all fishing-related mortality but that cannot be considered the responsibility of McDonalds. It is also entirely unfair to demand a boycott of all New Zealand seafood: that will penalize innocent fishers in other unrelated fisheries like hoki who have worked hard to improve their fisheries and have little environmental impact.”
SFP advises major buyers on the sustainability of the fisheries they source from, and helps them engage their supply chains in improvement projects. SFP has not seen any scientific evidence of the Maui dolphin population being impacted by the hoki fisheries.
If evidence emerges that Maui dolphins are being impacted by fisheries that SFP partners source from, then SFP would evaluate whether the fishery could make improvements rapidly enough to justify continuing, or whether the fishery simply needed to stop. In the latter case, SFP would advise buyers to immediately stop sourcing from those fisheries.
We urge the BBC to reexamine this issue, identify which seafood comes from fisheries threatening the Maui dolphin, name the companies selling that specific seafood, and investigate evidence of improvements or a cessation of sourcing. In the mean time, BBC readers who are New Zealand seafood lovers should insist on hoki or other New Zealand seafood certified by the MSC, as offered by responsible restaurants including McDonald’s.