NZ Fisheries Get Green Light
31 July 2009
Ministry of Fisheries Chief Executive Wayne McNee said today he was very satisfied with the positive assessment of New Zealand’s performance in the high-profile scientific research paper, “Rebuilding Global Fisheries” published in the international journal, Science.
New Zealand was one of only two marine areas to receive a “Green” rating, the highest allocated. Along with Alaska, we have led the world in terms of management success by our efforts to put management interventions in place before drastic measures are needed to conserve, restore and rebuild marine resources.
“This is very good news and an endorsement of our Quota Management System,” said Wayne McNee. “It also shows that we’re on the right track with the initiatives we’re currently working on. There’s no room for complacency, but these results are very encouraging.”
Ministry of Fisheries Chief Scientist Pamela Mace was one of the 21 authors of the paper, the result of a two-year series of workshops.
“This was a professional achievement for Dr Mace as well as recognition that the New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries and the fisheries industry as a whole have much to offer on the international stage,” said Wayne McNee.
“Participants were selected for their expertise in relevant areas,” Dr Mace said. “There was also an attempt to get a good spread of geographical representation, particularly from developed countries with good fisheries information systems.”
Fish stocks selected for coverage were those for which full scientific assessments have been carried out. Nineteen New Zealand stocks featured in the paper, mostly hoki, hake, ling, oreo and paua. Orange roughy was not included due to the lack of adequate output from the stock assessments.
The paper also highlighted the progress that had been made in many other parts of the world in reducing fishing pressure and rebuilding depleted stocks.
“Contrary to the negative press that world fisheries have been receiving recently, fisheries management success stories are becoming increasingly common,” said Pamela Mace. “The US, Iceland and the EU have been making concerted attempts to reduce fishing pressure over the last decade or so and this has resulted in increases in fish biomass in a number of cases.
“Recoveries of some stocks off the US west coast, New England and northwest Australia have been spectacular. Reduced fishing pressure means there are many other stocks poised for recovery.”
New Zealand also has a good record of rebuilding fish stocks when required. “Much has been done over the last few years to improve the sustainability of the hoki fishery,” Wayne McNee said. “Catch limits were progressively reduced, from 250,000 tonnes in 2001 to 90,000 tonnes in 2007, to reduce fishing pressure and enable the stock to rebuild. The recently-completed 2009 assessment shows that the stock is now within the target range.”
A further goal of the research was to identify tools managers have applied internationally in their efforts to rebuild depleted fish stocks. Catch share systems and controls on total allowable catch – both components of New Zealand’s Quota Management System – were viewed as particularly important.
Also needed are clear rules and targets for rebuilding, and fisheries certification systems that provide incentives for improved management practices.
“New Zealand is stepping up to the mark in these two areas as well,” said Wayne McNee. “A Harvest Strategy Standard that specifies stock or fishery targets to be achieved and stock limits that must be avoided was developed over a three-year period and approved for implementation in October 2008.
“Hoki was certified by the Marine Stewardship Council in 2001 and five additional species are currently being assessed for certification.”
For the research materials, see
For information on the New Zealand hoki fishery, see