Should the Annual Catch Entitlement for rock lobster be able to be carried forward?
Update – 3 March 2020
Almost 370 submissions were received from tangata whenua, the recreational sector, environmental organisations, and commercial fishing.
The Minister of Fisheries decided to allow 10% of ACE to be carried forward to the next fishing year, which runs from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. More details are in the minister's media release:
Consultation on the ACE
Fisheries New Zealand sought feedback on whether to enable uncaught rock lobster commercial Annual Catch Entitlement (ACE) to be carried forward into the next fishing year (which begins 1 April 2020).
Submissions closed at 12pm on 24 February 2020.
Three options proposed
The 3 options that were proposed were:
A. Retaining the status quo: Making no changes to the Act, and not enabling rock lobster ACE carry forward; or
B. Enabling carry forward of up to 10% of the total rock lobster ACE, if uncaught by individual fishers; or
C. In addition to option B, also enabling the one-off carry forward of all uncaught rock lobster ACE, beyond 10%
Reasons for this consultation
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to the collapse of demand for live rock lobster in the Chinese market, during the Chinese New Year period. This is typically a period of high live rock lobster demand and high prices. China is the leading export market for live New Zealand rock lobster, accounting for 98% to 99% of all exports.
It is uncertain how long low demand for Chinese exports will continue, or whether the industry will be able to find alternative markets before the end of the fishing year.
For most other species managed within the Quota Management System, ACE holders are able to carry forward up to 10% of their individual total ACE holdings that may not have been caught by the end of the fishing year. However, for all rock lobster stocks, no uncaught ACE could be carried forward without the rules changing.
There was an opportunity to provide relief to rock lobster fishers highly exposed to the unexpected market impacts of the coronavirus outbreak, without creating sustainability risks, in conjunction with measures they can take themselves. Enabling ACE carry forward allows for fishers to defer the catch of rock lobster to the next fishing year, when export markets for live rock lobster are likely to have improved.
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