GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Fishing Industry Stories

September 22, 2009

New York Times' report on food fish raises New Zealand industry's ire

Considered a model of enlightened self interest, the New Zealand Seafood Industry is furious about a splashy newspaper article anchored to environmental organizations' claims that insinuates a systemic failure surrounding the harvesting of hoki, which finds itself in fast-food fish sandwiches.

In a series of letters exchanged with The New York Times, which published the disputed story two weeks ago and on Friday issued a limited apology by e-mail that has not yet made its corrections page, industry officials and representatives found a plethora of errors in the original story by William J. Broad.

WorldFishingToday.com, the Web site of Commercial Fishing News World Wide, published an extensive report that noted the New Zealand fishing industry had sent The New York Times an open letter "detailing a variety of omissions and distortions in its reporting that painted an erroneous picture of the nation's fishing community."

"Around the world, the vast majority of marine scientists and fisheries managers rate New Zealand's fisheries, including the two hoki stocks, as one of the two best managed in the world," wrote George Clement, CEO of the New Zealand industry's Deepwater Group.

Irking the industry was Broad's faith in the environmentalist perspectives, led by the World Wildlife Fund. It was a trust so strong that the reporter didn't deign to call New Zealanders who fish for, process and ship hoki.

But that didn't stop the New York Times from lifting the digital image of hoki from the industry Web site without permission and using it to illustrate a story it termed a "cautionary tale" about the penchant of "commercial interests" with "a lot of money at stake" to kick aside prudent conservation practices.

That insult to injury doubly irked the industry.

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