Strong measures proposed to counteract overfishing
18 June 2007
Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton is proposing strong measures to tackle those who exceed their fishing catch limits.
“Fishers must pay a ‘deemed value’, as a penalty, for each kilogram of fish they land over their annual catch entitlement. But the deemed values have been too low and I am proposing to increase them as a disincentive for fishers to land more than they are entitled to,” Jim Anderton said.
Deemed values were introduced in 2001 in recognition of the fact that some fishing methods, such as trawling, catch fish species that the fishers are not intending to catch. In order not to waste these fish, they can be landed and processed, although the fisher does not have annual catch entitlement for that species. To ensure there is no monetary gain or incentive to catch species for which they have no entitlement, fishers are charged a deemed value.
“It is in everyone’s interest that fishers stick to these catch limits. The future health and sustainability of our fisheries depends upon it. I am well aware that recreational fishers and the vast majority of the fishing industry are calling for measures to ensure this happens.”
“Under the proposed changes,” Jim Anderton said, “deemed values will be adjusted more often to ensure fishers have no incentive to fish in excess of their annual catch entitlement.
“However, I know that higher deemed values increase the incentive on fishers to illegally discard fish for which they do not hold an entitlement. But it is better to know how much over-catch there has been when setting the next year’s catch limits, than not to know, which is why there has been some hesitancy about increasing deemed values. So I have directed the Ministry of Fisheries to make discarding a compliance priority and to come down hard on anyone caught throwing unwanted fish overboard.”
As part of the Quota Management System (QMS), a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) is set for each fishery to ensure that New Zealand’s valuable fisheries are managed sustainably.
Over-catch is a concern in some fisheries, and snapper is a good example. “I am proposing to increase the annual deemed value rate for snapper to $8 per kg. As a further disincentive, for each 10% of over-catch in the three snapper fisheries, fishers will be charged an extra dollar. So 10% over-catch would a see a deemed value of $9, a 20% over-catch would see a deemed value of $10 and so on.
“All fishing sectors want to see this problem solved. I have begun consulting fisheries stakeholders on these proposals and I look forward to their submissions,” Jim Anderton said.
Within the TAC, a Total Allowable Commercial Catch is set for each fishery and commercial fishers to adhere to, based on their individual Annual Catch Entitlement (ACE).
Current deemed values in the snapper fisheries are: $3 per kg in Snapper 2 (Cape Runaway to Wellington on the East Coast of the North Island); $2.01 in Snapper 7 (West Coast of the South Island); and $4.25 in Snapper 8 (Wellington to North Cape on the West Coast of the North Island).