Cautious approach central to NZ fisheries management
9 March 2010
The Ministry of Fisheries said today that New Zealand takes a conservative approach to its fisheries management based on sound scientific research.
“We have sophisticated and well integrated fisheries research, management and monitoring systems that have been refined over the last 20 years,” said Gavin Lockwood, Ministry of Fisheries Deputy Chief Executive Fisheries Management. “Our Quota Management System is regarded as one of the world’s best. Two notable international studies recently have confirmed this status.”
Annual decisions on catch limits are based on the best available science, said Mr Lockwood. Every year some $20 million is spent on scientific research and stock assessments.
“We must carefully prioritise that spend on research that best meets fisheries management needs, based on the value and risks within fisheries. A high proportion of catch - 70 percent by value and volume – comes from assessed fishstocks. For other stocks that attract less research spending, the QMS ensures that total allowable catch limits are in place and significant monitoring of catch and effort happens to make sure catches remain within limits.
“We invest considerable effort and resources in research and assessment,” said Mr Lockwood. “That information is regularly assessed by panels of scientists, fishery managers and representatives of environmental and fishery interests.
“This process is open and transparent, and the information on which management decisions is based is freely available. Catch limit decisions therefore flow from top-quality independent research which is subject to rigorous independent review.
“Catch limits move up and down to take into account changes in the abundance of a fishstock and to make sure fishing is kept at sustainable levels. The hoki fishery is an excellent example of this approach working effectively.
“The QMS gets a lot of international attention because it gives fisheries managers effective tools to maintain healthy fishstocks and rebuild depleted stocks when required.”