McDonald's responds after being dragged into New Zealand fish sustainability row

A leaked memo about sustainability of the New Zealand fishing industry is now gaining international attention with global food giant McDonald's also being brought into the row.

New Zealand exports almost $200 million worth of hoki each year and McDonald's told the BBC this morning that eight percent of the fish they use is NZ hoki.

Campaigners have been calling on McDonald's to drop NZ fish from the menus but so far the food giant is defending our fishing practices, telling the BBC our hoki fishery is considered one of the most well maintained and controlled fisheries in the world.

NABU International's provocative doctored images, with the slogan "Buy New Zealand fish, get dead Maui’s dolphins free". Source: Supplied

Earlier this week conservation group NABU International told ONE News that it would post provocative doctored images, including one showing dolphins at a fish shop, with the slogan "Buy New Zealand fish, get dead Maui’s dolphins free".

Spokeswoman Barbara Maas claims the deaths of Maui's and Hector Dolphins are being covered up and NABU International is launching an international consumer campaign against New Zealand fish.

It's the second time this week MPI have had to defend the industry, following a damning Auckland University study that found the number of fish caught over the past 60 years could be more than twice what official records show, due to widespread fish dumping.

But an MPI spokesperson said "NABU's accusation that New Zealand has hidden the deaths of Maui's and Hector's dolphins lacks credibility and is not supported by any evidence".

"It's very disappointing that an international NGO is using flawed analysis and unfounded accusations to discredit New Zealand and affect the livelihoods of hard working New Zealanders."

McDonald's this morning responded, saying it has a global commitment to only source fish from a certified sustainable fishery, including in New Zealand.

"The New Zealand Hoki Fishery was one of the first fisheries in the world to be awarded MSC certification for sustainable fishing," communications manager Christina Tyler said.

"There is no guesswork in ensuring these standards are met and maintained because the MSC has an independent team of scientists regularly examine data."

Seafood New Zealand chief executive Tim Pankhurst said NABU's claims are "unsubstantiated" and "potentially damaging" to the $1.7 billion New Zealand fishing industry.