Fisheries Minister sets new catch limits for 11 fishstocks
29 September 2009
Minister of Fisheries, Phil Heatley, has today announced a range of changes to catch limits in eleven fisheries that will take effect from 1 October 2009.
These decisions are the culmination of a process of peer reviewed scientific research, stock assessment modelling, analysis of management options and public consultation.
“I have carefully considered the best information available and taken a cautious and responsible approach to making these decisions,” said Mr Heatley.
“I am committed to making good fisheries management decisions based on sound science so we can make the best use of our valuable fishstocks now, while making sure they will be available into the future.
“This sort of management is about maximising the benefit we get from our fishstocks within environmental limits as set out in Fisheries 2030, the Government’s 20 year goal and action plan for the fisheries sector.”
The Minister’s decisions have mostly been to make modest increases to catch limits where the science says that would be appropriate, while some catch limits have been reduced to protect sustainability.
Catch limits move up and down to take into account changes in the abundance of a fishstock and ensure that fishing is kept to sustainable levels.
“I am particularly pleased with the latest research in the hoki fishery which shows this approach has worked successfully and I have been able to make an increase in the catch limit,” Mr Heatley said.
The fishing industry has a number of voluntary measures in place for several fisheries such as splitting their catch between different areas and avoiding fishing in some areas altogether.
The Minister has congratulated the fishing industry for these responsible voluntary measures but reiterated that he expects the arrangements to be complied with in full.
Daily bag limits for recreational fishing have not been changed.
The Minister’s decisions on specific fisheries are detailed below:
Hoki catches will be increased by 20,000 tonnes bringing the commercial catch limit (Total Allowable Commercial Catch or TACC) from the current level of 90,000 tonnes up to 110,000 tonnes.
It is estimated that this increase will bring in over $29 million in extra export earnings for the country.
“Scientific modelling shows that a larger increase in hoki catches could have been justified but I am taking a cautious approach to make sure we keep the stock in the target range over the long term,” Mr Heatley said.
New Zealand has two separate hoki stocks, the eastern, which spawns in Cook Strait and the western, which spawns off the South Island’s west coast. The western hoki stock has experienced a period of low levels of ‘recruitment’ (young fish entering the fishery). This has required significant reductions in catch limits over the past seven years (from 250,000 tonnes in 2000 down to 90,000 tonnes in 2007) to allow the stock to rebuild.
“The reductions in catch over the last seven years have come at significant cost to the fishing industry and the economy but this careful management is now paying dividends,” Mr Heatley said.
The Ministry of Fisheries recently announced the findings of the latest scientific research. The western hoki stock is recovering well and is now back within the target range for the fishery. The eastern hoki stock remains very strong and has never been below target levels.
Neither hoki stock has ever dropped below the international benchmark for a fishstock to be considered “overfished” or “depleted.”
More information on the hoki fishery is available here >>
Orange roughy 3B (ORH3B)
The TACC for the orange roughy fishery off the east and south coast of the South Island will be reduced from 9,420 tonnes to 7,950 tonnes.
The ORH 3B fishery is made up of several sub-stocks and the TACC is split into agreed catch limits for each of these sub-stocks. This reduction to the TACC will apply to the agreed catch limit for the East and South Chatham Rise.
“This decision is part of a phased reduction of catch limits as part of an agreed management strategy for the East and South Chatham Rise fishery,” Mr Heatley said.
“This is a larger cut than previously anticipated but the monitoring and research suggested it is necessary.
“There has been significant research on the orange roughy fishery in this area and this research will continue so we can get sufficient data to inform appropriate management decisions,” he said.
The Minister congratulated the fishing industry for their support of the management strategy and the phased reduction in catches.
Black cardinalfish 2 (CDL2)
The TACC for black cardinalfish off the North Island’s east and south coast will be reduced from 2,223 tonnes to 1,620 tonnes. This reduction is the first stage in a phased reduction of catch limits over the next three years to allow the stock to rebuild.
“The latest research shows that current fishing levels will not be sustainable over the long term and a significant reduction in fishing is needed,” Mr Heatley said.
A staged reduction in catch limits will allow for appropriate action to be taken to safeguard the future of the fishstock while preventing the severe economic cost of a rapid reduction in catch.
“A staged reduction over three years will not jeopardise the future of the stock and will give operators time to adjust their fishing operations,” Mr Heatley said.
“I have asked the Ministry of Fisheries to investigate options for how to better monitor the status of black cardinalfish over the long term. I ask that the fishing industry constructively engage with the Ministry on this work.”
Ling 7 (LIN7)
The TACC for ling on the central west coast of the North and South Islands is to increase from 2,225 tonnes to 2,474 tonnes.
The best available information indicates the ling stock is likely to be above target levels and there is room for an increase in catch.
“The stock assessment modelling suggests that the ling population would continue to increase over the next five years under the current catch limit,” Mr Heatley said.
Marlborough dredge oysters (OYS7C)
The TACC for Marlborough dredge oysters is to increase by 20 tonnes, from 43 to 63 tonnes.
“The Marlborough dredge oyster fishery is still being developed and the stock assessment shows that taking an extra 20 tonnes will be sustainable over the long term,” Mr Heatley said.
Some concerns have been raised over the potential impacts oyster dredging has on the sea floor, particularly in areas close to shore. To manage this impact the fishing industry has given a commitment to restrict all dredging to the existing commercial harvest area and stay well away from close inshore areas.
“I am confident that all commercial vessels will comply with this undertaking as they will all use the Challenger Oyster Company’s satellite vessel monitoring system when fishing,” Mr Heatley said.
“Oyster dredging within the existing commercial harvest area has a negligible long-term impact on the seafloor because of high tidal current flows across the oyster beds and fishing is only carried out for around four weeks a year,” he said.
This increase will be worth approximately $180,000 per annum to the local oyster fishery.
Small TACC increases have been made in a range of other fisheries due to natural increases in the fish population.
These fisheries include:
- elephantfish on the east coast of the South Island (ELE3) – increase from 950 to 1000 tonnes;
- elephantfish on the south and southwest coast of the South Island (ELE5) – increase from 120 to 140 tonnes;
- red gurnard on the north and west coasts of the South Island (GUR7) – increase from 681 to 715 tonnes;
- red gurnard on the south and east coasts of the South Island (GUR3) – increase from 800 to 900 tonnes;
- smooth oreo on the South Island’s east coast (part of OEO3A) – increase from 1400 to 1650 tonnes; and
- John dory on the South Island’s north and west coasts (JDO7) – increase from 114 to 125 tonnes.
The Minister also considered changes to the catch limits for rig (spotted dogfish) off the North Island’s south east coast (SPO2) and snapper on the South Island’s north and west coast (SNA7) but has decided against making a change to these catch limits.
“There is not enough information on these fishstocks for me to feel comfortable increasing catches,” Mr Heatley said.
“I take a cautious and responsible approach to making decisions on our valuable fishstocks and will only increase catches when I can be confident it will be sustainable,” he said.