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News in Brief: April 2020

3 min read

NZ Seafood Sustainability Awards postponed

The inaugural New Zealand Seafood Sustainability Awards dinner has been postponed indefinitely because of COVID-19. Award winners were to be announced at a dinner in Wellington on 18 March 2020, before New Zealand was placed under Alert Level 4.

In an update on its website, Ministry of Primary Industry (MPI) said, “We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. However, the health and wellbeing of our guests and our staff is top of mind. We’re not sure yet when the event will be rescheduled.”

The awards were to celebrate those who are actively working to advance and improve the seafood sector.

“This event was a testament to our finalists, as part of our seafood sector, who are taking the initiative every day to deliver a more sustainable future for New Zealand’s seafood. We appreciate all the hard work. We look forward to celebrating properly later in the year.”

More than 50 entries were received across six categories. This spanned a diverse range of individuals, groups, and projects within the seafood sector.
To find out more information on the finalists, visit

Public urged to stay off Hakarimata Summit

Department of Conservation (DOC) issued a notice on their website urging public not to venture into the great outdoors, particularly well-used tracks such as the Hakarimata Summit Trail. However, the organisation added that information from recent social media posts showed that people were ignoring the advice.

David Speirs, incident management team lead for DOC in the Waikato, says people continuing to use the track are putting themselves and others at risk. He encouraged everybody to stick to the lockdown plan and consider the impacts of their actions on the community, including their family.

“We know the Hakarimata track is popular and loved by many Waikato people, but this is not the time to be using it,” Speirs said.

“The track is too narrow for people to keep that two-metre social distance, and the handrail is exactly the sort of surface the COVID-19 virus could sit on, ready to infect the next person touching the rail.

“It’s unacceptable people are clambering over barriers we’ve put in when they’ve been explicitly told not to use the track” Speirs said.

On 27 March, the entrance to the summit track was sealed and signs were put in place reminding the public to not use the track. NZ Police will be monitoring these sites.

Surf cameras used to check for lockdown rule breakers

Police are using surf cameras to check for COVID-19 lockdown rule-breakers after a dramatic injury to a surfer hours before the lockdown demonstrated the danger of practising outdoor sports. Surf2Surf, an online surf report company, announced that police and Coastguard will be using their webcams to check for rulebreakers.

Under the new rules issued on 3 April, all water-based activities, including fishing, surfing, and boating, have been banned. Surf Lifesaving NZ and the Coastguard also said they are not operating during the lockdown, and any incident could put the staff and volunteers in danger.

Isolated communities seeking permission to fish

Communities who live by the sea and rely on it for food are urging the government to ease the fishing ban during the lockdown, RNZ reported.
A Northland kaumātua, Dover Samuels, said the risk of spreading the virus – or contracting it – was far greater at a supermarket than out at sea.

“We’re not talking about recreational fishing, we’re not talking about commercial fishing, we are talking about fishing to sustain the whānau and the hapū,” he was quoted as saying by RNZ. “You can forget about the argument that the Coastguard will be called because someone will have an accident or get drowned. In my 80 years here, nobody has ever called the coast guard.”

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