Fisheries Management System Review

The 2015 Fisheries Management System Review has ended.

Review led to major work programme

After MPI finished the 2015 review, we developed a major work programme called Future of our Fisheries. The programme's designed to make significant improvements to how fisheries are managed.

Background to the review

New Zealand's fisheries management system is sound, and independent scientific assessments show that overall New Zealand's fisheries are doing well.

However, the system's key building blocks – the Fisheries Act and the Quota Management System – have been in place for 20 and 30 years respectively. Technology has advanced and society's expectations of how fisheries management should operate have also changed. This gives us a chance to review the system to ensure it continues to deliver for all New Zealanders.

What was covered by the review

This review gave us a chance to think more broadly about our key processes, regulatory and legislative settings.

The review considered the changing needs and expectations of the people who use New Zealand's fisheries to ensure our systems are focused on sustainably delivering on those needs.

Geographic coverage

The area reviewed included the New Zealand coastline (territorial sea) and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), as well as freshwater fisheries, such as those that are home to eels and mullets. The focus was on wild catch fish species and shellfish.

What was not in the review

The review was focused on enhancing the existing fisheries management system. But some core elements of the system were out of scope:

  • sustainable utilisation of fisheries resources as set out in Section 8 of the Fisheries Act
  • the Quota Management System tools (quota and annual catch entitlements)
  • the rights of commercial quota ownership
  • the Crown's obligations under Treaty settlements
  • the rights and interests of tangata whenua, and customary management
  • the right to fish for recreation.

The areas and fisheries not included were the high seas beyond New Zealand's EEZ.

What we did

As a first step in the review, MPI sought the public's views on the strengths and weaknesses of the current system, and opportunities and priorities for change.

As well as an online questionnaire, we ran drop-in information sessions and met with interested groups. MPI fisheries experts were available to answer questions and questionnaires could be completed at the venues.

Ideas and suggestions

Numerous suggestions and ideas were received in the areas of:

  • fisheries stocks sustainability
  • maximising benefits of total allowable catch
  • improved cost management
  • the need for better fisheries information
  • opportunities for alternative governance arrangements
  • responding effectively to future challenges.

Download the submissions

What happened next

Since the review began, a number of other pieces of work by MPI and the Government have progressed. They include:

  • Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge
  • Marine Protected Areas Act proposal
  • The Future of our Fisheries consultation process
  • The Future of our Fisheries programme.

In addition, MPI is working to address the issue of illegal discarding, and the findings of the independent Heron report.

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have questions about the review, email

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