Getting Serious About Understanding and Implementing The Fisheries Act 1996
Speech by Warwick Tuck, CEO, Ministry of Fisheries, launching seminar series
Wednesday 3 May 2000
I'm delighted to be here today to help launch what I know is going to be an interesting series of seminars aimed at improving the understanding of us all of the front end of the Fisheries Act 1996.
And, of course to extend a warm welcome, to you, the participants at today's seminar.
This series has been developed collaboratively by the Ministry of Fisheries and ECO - the Environment and Conservation Organisations of New Zealand.
Fisheries Act 1996
Within MFish, we are proud of the achievements that have been made in managing New Zealand's fisheries over the last 20 years.
However, the 1996 Fisheries Act is to me a line in the sand, or a signal, if you like, that there is a great deal more to be done.
The key challenges for the Ministry and for those involved in fisheries management in the front end of the Act are as I see them:
the requirement for an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management;
the recognition of the distinct relationship between the Ministry on behalf of the Crown and tangata whenua;
the need for decisions made under the Act to be consistent with New Zealand's international obligations relating to fishing; and
far wider participation in fisheries management.
Eco-system based approach
Worldwide, fisheries managers are grappling with what an eco system based approach to fisheries management means, and how to put it into effect.
In New Zealand, the requirement for an eco-system based approach to fisheries management leads on from our previous focus on fish stocks.
As a result of the 1996 Act, it is not enough to consider the effects of fishing on fish stocks alone. We are having to take account of the effects of fishing on the wider aquatic environment when making decisions under the Act.
One thing's for sure, this has implications for the kind of information we gather.
We will need far more information about the effects of fishing on the aquatic environment, and we will need to develop a common understanding of what the eco-system based approach means.
To do so I see us as working far more closely with other government departments and external organisations than we have in the past.
As far as tangata whenua are concerned, the 1996 Act has implications for both their input and participation.
The Act recognises that the Crown has a distinct relationship with tangata whenua, and that tangata whenua have certain rights, resulting from the settlement of Maori fisheries claims under Article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi.
We are in the process of giving proper meaning to our responsibilities.
The Act has significant implications in an international sense. It adds an important new test to our decisions: we must now act in a manner consistent with New Zealand's international obligations relating to fishing, particularly with UNCLOS - the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea - and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
It also establishes a high seas permitting regime to give effect to New Zealand's obligations under the UN Fish Stocks Agreement.
The second seminar in this series will be dealing solely with the scope and meaning
of "international obligations relating to fishing."
Fourthly, the 1996 Act facilitates wider participation in fisheries management decision-making processes.
As we say in our Strategic Plan, "achieving different relations with stakeholders is the single most important external feature of the way in which the Ministry must change, if it is to succeed in achieving healthy fisheries."
To do this, we'll be listening, trying to gain a greater understanding of different values, perspectives and objectives in managing our fisheries. This in turn means creating opportunities to listen to other points of view.
That's exactly what this series of seminars is about - the opportunity to listen to the wider policy community, gather ideas and work out ways of collaborating with those with an interest in fisheries management and in our oceans.
Within the Ministry we have long recognised that changes are needed for us to meet the requirements of the 1996 Act.
As well as acquiring new information, we need new skills. We must integrate all our different processes so they form a cohesive unit.
We must develop new systems and to do all this, we must educate and train ourselves about the requirements of the Act.
We understand that changes are needed if we are to deliver on the promise of the Act, and we have started making those changes.
This seminar series is one example of our collaborative approach to fisheries management.
These will be fora where we can all feel free to share and discuss ideas. They give us all an opportunity to air and understand different perspectives and values.
I trust we all find this seminar series useful, as well as enjoyable.
Finally, I'd particularly like to thank Doug Self of ECO, for all his hard organisational work, ECO in general, Cath Wallace and Lee Robinson for their major inputs and our facilitator, Dr Amanda Wolf, Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at Victoria University.