MFish probing new ideas on sustainable fishing
22 November 2004
The Ministry of Fisheries has brought international scientists to New Zealand to discuss alternative ways of managing fish stocks for sustainability.
Fisheries experts from the United States, Canada and South Africa are in Wellington this week for a workshop on alternative harvest strategies coordinated by the Ministry.
"Advances in fisheries science, technology and population modelling mean that a comprehensive review of harvest strategies is timely," says Ministry special projects scientist Dr Pamela Mace.
New Zealand's Fisheries Act 1996 requires catch limits to be set at levels that maintain fish stocks at or above maximum sustainable yield (MSY). This is the largest average annual catch that can be taken over time without reducing the stock's productive potential.
"In practice, there are a range of possible strategies for managing fishing to achieve MSY," says Dr Mace. "In some cases it can also be very difficult to estimate MSY, which means we need further reference points or performance measures to help ensure good management.
"We've brought fisheries scientists here from other countries to discuss the range of harvest strategies currently in use around the world. New Zealand is at the forefront of fisheries management internationally and the way to stay there is to keep abreast of the latest thinking.
"The workshop will begin evaluating some of the available models for sustainable harvests. We're looking to develop a set of acceptable strategies that we can build on for the future. In due course these will include strategies based on ecosystem approaches, or the need to balance harvest objectives in multi-species systems, or to minimise bycatch of protected species."
The workshop takes place from Monday until Thursday.