New species entering QMS create attractive investment prospects
27 January 2003
The introduction of new species into the Quota Management System (QMS) will create attractive investment prospects according to Ministry of Fisheries senior manager Michael Arbuckle.
Ten commercially caught species, paddle crab, butterfish, blue mackerel, queen scallops, cockles (Snake Bank, in Whangarei Harbour), anchovy, pilchard, garfish, sprats and kina (South Island and Chatham Islands) were added to the QMS in October 2002. New species to be introduced in October 2003 include longfin and shortfin eels (Chatham Islands), kina (North Island), kingfish, leatherjacket and rough and smooth skates.
Mr Arbuckle said there was substantial demand for New Zealand seafood worldwide, and there was no reason why a number of the new additions to the QMS couldn't develop into premium products that were highly sought after in the international marketplace once quota held by the Crown is allocated. For this reason, the Ministry of Fisheries is considering introducing some fisheries with potential for further commercial development.
Another seventeen species, some with development potential, are proposed for QMS introduction in April 2004, including geoduck, knobbed whelk, sea cucumber, green-lipped mussel (wild), horse mussel, surf clams (seven species), octopus, deepwater crabs (three species) and giant spider crab.
The exporting, branding and marketing of new quota species could provide more employment opportunities in the regions, he said. There were already 10,000 people working in the seafood industry but seafood delicacies like kina and other shellfish were best harvested by hand.
"Hand gathering is an effective way of ensuring shellfish species are kept in pristine condition."
The Ministry of Fisheries has set as an objective to introduce 50 species into the QMS over a four-year timeframe. Further opportunities will arise for people to invest in developing new fisheries.
The seafood industry has developed into a key part of the New Zealand economy. It is now New Zealand's fourth largest export earner behind dairy, meat and forestry.
The industry is already worth more than $1.5 billion in annual export earnings and set to surpass $2 billion by 2010.
Mr Arbuckle said the ongoing growth in the industry demonstrated the benefits of having a sustainable management process such as the QMS in place.
"The QMS is what has made the sustained - and sustainable - growth in New Zealand fisheries possible," he said. "By creating individual property rights that can be bought or sold and by limiting the exploitation of the resource to sustainable levels we have created a stable and relatively certain environment for commercial fishers, which is a very rare thing in world fisheries."
Creating those rights is almost always a contentious and noisy process because all those involved in each fishery brought into the QMS naturally want to maximise the share they receive on initial allocation - which is the only time additional quota does not have to be bought at market rates.
"The resources are usually worth many millions of dollars so it's not surprising that the initial allocation of rights is hotly contested. However, once the allocations have been made this dies down - as can be seen with the fisheries that have been in the QMS for several years or more."
The face of the New Zealand seafood industry has changed dramatically since the introduction of the QMS. Two thirds of current exports were untapped resources 20 years ago, and the deep water fishery had relatively little direct New Zealand involvement.
Quota management has created an environment in which our fisheries have changed from high use of overseas vessels to a commercial resource owned by New Zealanders, fished by New Zealand vessels using New Zealand crew. This environment has been conducive for developing more sophisticated marketing and branding of New Zealand seafood products.
"Since the QMS was established, most stocks in which biomass and productivity data were well known are now above sustainable levels. The QMS is a proven platform for sustainable fishing, economic development, and the settlement of Maori Treaty claims."
Under the 1992 Deed of Settlement, Maori are allocated 20 percent of the commercial fishing rights when species are introduced into the QMS.
In 1986 27 species or groups of species were introduced into the QMS. Now there are more than 55 species or species complexes. It is expected within the next three years there will be 40 more quota species.
On a world scale, New Zealand makes up less than two percent of the seafood market, but about 90 percent of all seafood caught here is exported.
As pressure on other world fisheries - most of which are not sustainably managed - grows, then the value of New Zealand's stocks will grow.
Note: Michael Arbuckle is a senior manager with the Ministry of Fisheries and was, until recently, Chief Executive of the Challenger Scallop Enhancement Company. He was also an establishment director of the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council from 1997 to 1999 and holds a B.Sc in Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology and a M.Sc. (Hons) in Resource Management.