Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Groser orders up protected Antarctic toothfish

Trade Minister Tim Groser. Photo / Ben Fraser
Trade Minister Tim Groser. Photo / Ben Fraser

A plate of protected Antarctic toothfish and controversial dish foie gras were on the table at a lavish taxpayer-funded dinner hosted by Trade Minister Tim Groser.

Mr Groser and two officials ordered the toothfish - a species which New Zealand is going to huge lengths to protect - at a Singapore restaurant in January, ministerial credit card receipts released by the Department of Internal Affairs show.

The receipt says Mr Groser spent $300 on the meal at Table for 7, which included $35 on the Chilean Sea Bass - also known as Patagonian or Antarctic toothfish. The minister ordered foie gras for $26, two pan-seared duck dishes for $35 each, and a $90 bottle of Central Otago pinot noir.

Mr Groser was in the country for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks, and the meal was declared as a "delegation dinner hosted by the Minister".

Toothfish is believed to be an overfished species with a declining population, though population counts were difficult in the species' main habitat in the Southern Ocean.

Fishing of the species is kept to a strict quota, which can only be caught in a brief window over summer.

New Zealand has been working for years with the USA to establish a massive marine reserve in Antarctica in order to protect species including the toothfish.

The dish is rarely sold in New Zealand because is it a delicacy that fetches around $70/kg in the United States and Asia.

Foie gras is also a controversial dish - animal rights activists have long protested against "fatty liver" because making it involved force-feeding a live duck or goose.

- NZ Herald

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