Ministry of Fisheries responds to Forest & Bird Society (7 September 1999)
The introduction of the Fisheries Amendment Bill is consistent with the fundamental principles of the Fisheries Act 1996 to provide for the sustainable utilisation of New Zealand fishery resources and does not legalise over-fishing, the Ministry of Fisheries said today.
The Ministry was responding to Forest & Bird Society concerns that the passing of the Fisheries Amendment Bill will allow over-fishing to a level which will have serious consequences for sustainable fisheries and the marine environment.
The Fisheries Amendment Bill has not altered the fundamental purpose and principles of the Fisheries Act 1996. The provisions within the Fisheries Amendment Bill are designed to allow greater administrative flexibility for fishers to harvest their catch entitlements within the overriding framework of sustainability.
The revised fisheries management regime provides a number of management mechanisms which impose penalties for over-fishing. These penalties provide appropriate incentives for fishers to purchase further catch entitlements to cover such fishing activity.
Under the amended legislation, any fisher exceeding their catch entitlement is required to pay a penalty which will be set at a level which will encourage a fisher to acquire further catch entitlements to cover their catch while also providing enough incentive to land catch and thereby avoid the potential for dumping of catch and misreporting. Failure by a fisher to pay this penalty will lead to automatic suspension of that fisher's permit.
The amended regime also provides the ability for fishers who over catch their entitlement by an excessive amount to be excluded from fishing in that quota management area.
While the Fisheries Amendment Bill does provide for some stocks to be managed at a level below the maximum sustainable yield (the management target for most quota management stocks), this can be achieved without risk to the long term sustainability of fishstocks. Any decision to manage below the maximum sustainable yield is subject to specific criteria. This criteria includes the following:
- the stock concerned must be a bycatch stock
- the benefits of managing under this alternative regime must outweigh the costs
- there must be no detrimental effects on non-commercial interests in that stock
- the stock must be maintained above a level that ensures its long term viability
- the purpose of the Fisheries Act would be better achieved by setting an alternative total allowable catch for the stock
The Forest & Bird Society have also raised concerns regarding the ability for industry to play a greater role in the purchase of fisheries research and the maintenance of critical databases.
The overriding principle of the devolution provisions within the Fisheries Amendment Bill is that the Minister responsible for fisheries will continue to be responsible for all sustainability decisions. The new provisions allow the devolution of responsibility for administrative registry services to approved service delivery organisations. This does not include research or data base management. The provision of research and data base management will continue to be the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Fisheries.
The Fisheries Act 1996 already provides for the direct purchase of services (including research) by outside organisations such as the fishing industry. Any research will be subject to strict standards and specifications established by the Chief Executive. These standards and specifications will also be the subject of wide consultation with other stakeholders.
These changes will not marginalise recreational and customary fishers as claimed by the Forest & Bird Society. These organisations, as well as being involved in setting the standards and specifications for any research, will also continue to be fully involved in the consideration of the outcome of such research and the resulting sustainability decision making process by the Minister.
The Fisheries Act 1996 continues to have the primary purpose of providing for the utilisation of fisheries resources while ensuring sustainability. The Ministry of Fisheries believes that all of the amendments contained within the Fisheries Amendment Bill are consistent with this overall goal.