Future-proofing fisheries management
A review of New Zealand's fisheries management system is underway. Read about the 5 themes of the review.
Aim of the review
The aim of the fisheries management system review is to ensure that it's still fit-for-purpose and maintains sustainable fisheries for current and future generations.
MPI administers the Fisheries Act and has started working on some fisheries management areas identified for improvement:
What is sustainable fishing?
Fishing in a sustainable way means:
- making sure that enough of the fish population remains to breed in the future
- not destroying the marine habitats essential for spawning, migration and feeding.
Ensuring the sustainability of New Zealand's fisheries is the fundamental principle of the fisheries management system. It's in the legislation that MPI administers:
… ensuring sustainability means—
- maintaining the potential of fisheries resources to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations; and
- avoiding, remedying, or mitigating any adverse effects of fishing on the aquatic environment.
— Fisheries Act, 1996
Are we fishing sustainably?
Yes. Our fisheries management system is considered world-leading and scientific assessments show that overall our fisheries are sustainable. This review will help us ensure it continues to deliver for current and future generations.
Local communities and international markets are taking a growing interest in the environmental impacts of fishing. Expectations of what a fisheries management regime can and should deliver, including resource sustainability and product traceability, are increasing.
New Zealand's fisheries management system must be able to respond.
How to ensure resource sustainability into the future
Building on this track record of sustainable fisheries management is essential to future-proofing our fisheries. How do we do this?
What our fisheries offer
New Zealand has a relatively small land area and a very large marine space. Most people live within easy reach of the coastline.
A diverse range of individuals, groups and organisations have an interest in the management of our fisheries resources, each with their own view of the benefits available from that resource – ecological, cultural, social, and financial to name just a few.
The Fisheries Act 1996 provides a framework for balancing those often competing interests so that all can benefit.
Balancing competing interests
The Fisheries Act requires that a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limit is set for every fish stock in the Quota Management System (QMS).
Allowances for customary and recreational interests, and other fishing-related mortalities must be considered prior to setting the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) for each stock.
The QMS then provides for a market based system, quota and annual catch entitlements. These rights encourage best economic use of the commercial sector's share of the resource.
Demands on the fisheries resource
Over the past 30 years, the fisheries management system has come under increasing pressure as different interests seek increased benefits from the same resource.
How decisions are currently made
The Fisheries Act 1996 contains a variety of decision-making functions and powers to ensure resource sustainability and allow for utilisation by customary, recreational and commercial fishers.
Most decisions are made by either the Minister for Primary Industries or the Chief Executive of MPI. Their decisions are informed by consultation with other parties and a range of information, including scientific research.
Generally speaking, the minister sets the parameters on fishing, and the chief executive supplies the management services (research, compliance monitoring, enforcement, and administration).
Decision-making must be supported by appropriate checks and balances to manage risk and protect the interests of all New Zealanders.
Monitoring and enforcement activities
MPI is responsible for administering the Fisheries Act 1996 and its supporting regulations, and takes the lead on monitoring and enforcement of the fisheries management system.
MPI invests heavily in monitoring fishing activity and in encouraging and enforcing compliance with the law. Monitoring and enforcement includes:
- patrols by fishery officers
- monitoring of fishing vessels using satellite technology, aircraft, and patrol boats to ensure their crews follow the rules
- on-board monitoring by MPI observers to record what is caught, including by-catch impact on seabirds, marine mammals, or protected corals
- analysis of fishing trends and patterns to identify future issues, for example, the increase in black-market sales of fish using social media.
MPI monitors fishing over 4 million square kilometres on New Zealand’s water and does nearly 30,000 fishing patrols and inspections a year.
The role of fisheries officers
Fishery officers work across New Zealand in all sectors of fisheries and have the powers to monitor fishing activities and taking enforcement action when non-compliance is detected.
Vital to MPI's work is the support of volunteer honorary fishery officers who have similar powers to full-time fishery officers, including the powers to search, question, and seize.
Honorary fishery officers do around 22,000 inspections each year, detecting over 1,000 breaches of the law.
Compliance activities range from education to enforcement – issuing warnings, infringement notices, or prosecution through the Courts.
It is vital to have a robust and agile compliance (monitoring and enforcement) component to support the integrity of the Quota Management System (QMS).
This review aims to build on the foundations of the Quota Management System and the Fisheries Act 1996. The fisheries management system has to be able to respond to current and emerging challenges over the coming decades.
- New Zealand's marine areas are increasingly busy and likely to become more so over time as our population grows. An increasing number of diverse stakeholder groups share an interest in the management of our fisheries but sometimes compete for the same space or resources.
- Recreational fishers, tangata whenua and local communities are seeking greater involvement in managing local areas.
- Interest in environmental impacts has grown.
- International seafood markets are seeking assurances that seafood products are sustainable and can be traced.
- Fisheries management has become more complex and costly as a growing number of 'one off' arrangements are established, such as local recreational rules for the Kaikōura marine area. Improving the fishing management system's ability to respond to local interests can place new demands on information, decision-making and compliance systems.
- The effects of global warming and climate change are already measurable. New Zealand's climate and ocean acidity levels are changing.
Who to contact
If you have questions about this review, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.