Speech - "The Ministry and the Seafood Industry - Exploring the Opportunities"
Speech notes for the Address by John Glaister,
Chief Executive of the Ministry of Fisheries, on 19 May
19 May 2005
Good morning, and thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. I am pleased to be able to share with the seafood industry my thoughts on moving New Zealand fisheries management ahead.
I took up my position as Chief Executive of the Ministry of Fisheries in December last year. I've worked in a number of positions in Australia. I have a life-long passion for fisheries. I'm excited to be here in New Zealand and taking up the challenges of leading the Ministry and building upon New Zealand's world-class fisheries management system.
I am encouraged by the theme of your conference. A range of speakers gave us their views on various opportunities and innovation yesterday. I found those sessions informative and reflective of a well-developed and progressive sector.
I hope that I can add to those contributions. I'd like to focus my talk today on where I see fisheries management in New Zealand going, in particular the opportunities for the Ministry and the seafood industry.
I'm going to outline views on the following issues:
- The Ministry's new Statement of Intent, including
- Desired outcomes
- Enhanced engagement with stakeholders, and
- Fisheries plans;
- The Strategy for Managing the Environmental Effects of Fishing; and
- International fisheries issues
And I will touch on
- The Growth and Innovation Initiatives, and
- The recent regulatory reforms significant to the fisheries sector.
The Ministry of Fisheries' Statement of Intent is a key document, approved by government. It sets out the Ministry's strategic direction over the next three years and specifies what activities the Ministry will undertake from July 2005 to June 2006.
It's not the most scintillating bedtime read, and it's not going to make the bestsellers' list. But I do encourage you to take a look at it.
It is the core accountability document for the Ministry, at both the strategic and operational levels. It clearly and transparently sets out the approach we will take to managing New Zealand's fisheries. The programme that will flow from that approach will affect your fishing operation. The new Statement of Intent will be available on the Ministry's website by the end of this week, along with the Ministry's responses to submissions received on the draft Statement of Intent.
Many of you will be familiar with the overall fisheries outcome for the Ministry of Fisheries. This is: "Maximise the value New Zealanders obtain from the sustainable use of fisheries resources and protection of the aquatic environment".
Value to New Zealanders is widely defined. The value of a thriving seafood industry is one aspect. Other types of value are recognised, including the value to Mäori of sustainable aquatic resources, the value of recreational fishing, and the value gained from fisheries in a healthy aquatic environment.
This year, the Statement of Intent identifies four contributing outcomes that support the overall fisheries outcome. The contributing outcomes are:
- The health of the aquatic environment is protected,
- People are able to realise best value from the sustainable and efficient use of fisheries,
- Crown obligations to Mäori with respect to fisheries are delivered, and
- Credible fisheries management.
I wish to expand briefly on each of these in turn, and outline the significance we believe these outcomes have for the future direction of New Zealand fisheries management.
Protecting the health of the aquatic environment is critical. We cannot have a thriving seafood industry unless we ensure the sustainability of fisheries resources is not compromised. We will need to work in consultation with stakeholders to determine the limits of acceptable human-induced change, and ensure these limits are not exceeded. I will talk more later about the Ministry's Strategy for Managing the Environmental Effects of Fishing.
Within limits set to ensure sustainability, it is desirable that fisheries resources are utilised by those who obtain the most value from them. Where practical, market mechanisms will be used to allocate access to fisheries resources.
Commercial rights are tradeable under the QMS, and it is assumed that those who value commercial fishing rights the most will be able to buy them. The government's role in allocating fisheries resources within the commercial sector is now minimal. We do not expect this to change.
However, there is currently no mechanism for stakeholders to adjust levels of access to fisheries resources between sectors or between individuals in non-commercial sectors. Better specification of the rights in the non-commercial sectors, and mechanisms to integrate those with commercial rights, would assist best value to be realised. Improving this aspect of the policy environment remains a priority for the Ministry.
In the short term, the Ministry's primary role in allocation is to help tangata whenua and stakeholders work together to identify how they want to maximise value from a fishery - including through allocations between sectors. The Ministry will work with tangata whenua and stakeholders to develop objectives. However, the Ministry is ultimately responsible for providing advice to the Minister.
The third contributory outcome relates to Crown obligations to Mäori. The Ministry recognises the status of Mäori as tangata whenua, and will deliver on its obligations to Mäori with respect to fishing by implementing our Deed of Settlement obligations. We will work to establish and maintain effective relationships with tangata whenua. The regional fora will be the primary vehicle for that interface. The Ministry also has implementation responsibilities under the recent aquaculture settlement, and fisheries-related obligations arising from settlements with individual iwi.
The fourth contributory outcome is credible fisheries management. We feel that credible fisheries management is very important, and an outcome in itself.
Effective management of fisheries needs credible management frameworks, and a credible Ministry, particularly for encouraging voluntary compliance with fisheries rules. Tangata whenua and stakeholders need to know that the information on which decisions are made is robust, that decision-making processes are effective and fair, and that decisions are properly implemented. The Ministry is making changes to some of its systems to ensure that it can do a better job in this area.
Effective engagement with tangata whenua, stakeholders, other government organisations and the public in the management of fisheries is another important factor in credibility. We are putting more effort into relationship management and communication.
The Ministry of Fisheries' Statement of Intent this year sets out a change in the way the Ministry intends to engage with its stakeholders, including the seafood industry. The Ministry will take on a stronger leadership role in the fisheries sector and work more closely with the wide range of interested parties who want to participate effectively in fisheries management processes.
This means you will see changes in the way we do things. I am committed to the Ministry providing real opportunities to engage in a positive way with all of its stakeholders - the commercial and non-commercial sectors, large companies and owner-operators. The Ministry will be more accessible and interactive than in the past.
This does not mean that we will intervene in every aspect of your business. We still believe the government should only intervene where necessary. Minister Hodgson clearly stated this again yesterday morning. Industry solutions are preferred but regulate when necessary. The Ministry's role will include establishing improved marine sector management frameworks, setting standards, undertaking statutory and regulatory functions, ensuring the integrity of the fisheries management regime and managing for provision of services to support these functions.
We will be looking to engage with commercial fishers to discuss issues of concern and options for constructive resolution. Much of this will be built around statutory processes, such as the sustainability measures round, and research planning.
One of the major initiatives that the Ministry will be progressing, particularly through multi-sector forums, is the development of management plans for fisheries. These fisheries plans specify the objectives that government, tangata whenua, and stakeholders want to achieve for specific fisheries. They also cover associated implementation strategies and services, including research, regulations, and compliance, to achieve the objectives. These plans will replace the stock strategies that were proposed in previous Ministry documents, and will be progressed for approval by the Minister under s11A of the Fisheries Act.
Fisheries Plans will be Ministry-led and build on the lessons we have learned so far. Our collective experience to date, plus the feedback we had from stakeholders on the draft Statement of Intent, has made it clear that Government needs to work more closely with stakeholders in management planning. Government working together with tangata whenua and stakeholders is the best approach to develop the objectives that will drive fisheries management interventions and services for a fishery.
Many fisheries management issues, particularly in the inshore area, involve a range of different interests. It will be necessary for fisheries stakeholders to work together. Effective multi-sector engagement is challenging. But it reflects real life. Bringing a range of perspectives and values to the table encourages greater understanding of where different people are coming from. Not that this means that agreement on objectives will be easily reached - but the Ministry may be in a position to facilitate greater consensus among users. The Ministry will still be ultimately responsible for advising the Minister. But we believe that greater participation means greater understanding and ownership of the problems and solutions.
The Ministry does, however, have limited resources. It will not be possible for Ministry staff to work with every stakeholder group to develop management plans all at once. Nor will it be possible to develop management plans for every fishery - at least not within the next few years. I recognise that stakeholders, including the commercial sector, also face resourcing constraints. We collectively need to be smart about how we use the resources we have available to us.
Flexibility will be provided regarding how objectives can be achieved. The initiatives of others to add value to fisheries will be encouraged. I acknowledge that there are a number of stakeholder led initiatives in place or under development. Aspects of some of these have already proven successful, including rock lobster management and the Guardians of Fiordland work. Others are still in the development stage.
Stakeholder led initiatives may be incorporated into Ministry led management plans, or be progressed independently. Some may be approved as fisheries plans under section 11A of the Fisheries Act where they require the involvement of government in implementing management measures or providing services. I commend those of you who have devoted considerable effort to these initiatives, and encourage you to think about how your efforts can best be progressed within the approach outlined in the Statement of Intent.
Adding value / GIF
I am aware that the industry is continually looking at ways to increase value. You are all well placed to see that the globalisation of markets and demands for product trace-ability and environmental performance are increasing. Government can assist in providing a platform to achieve continued growth and innovation in the fishing sector.
At this point I will mention two initiatives that will be of interest to you. Firstly cost recovery. The Ministry is committed to a review of the cost recovery rules to ensure they are consistent with the principles in the Fisheries Act. The review will also take into account the importance of having incentives related to achieving good fisheries management outcomes. The second initiative relates to deemed values. The Deemed Value Working Group involving Ministry and industry representatives has completed their report, which the Steering group have approved. We are in the process of co-signing a letter to the Minister. Based on his approval in principle, we can initiate the next stage of engagement with wider fisheries stakeholders.
Consistent with the Ministry's commitment to the Government's Growth and Innovation Framework, and providing the increased leadership in the fisheries sector signalled in the SOI, in April this year I convened an Aquaculture Forum here in Wellington to bring together the key players in this sector. The aim was to get everyone in the same room at the same time to facilitate discussion on the development by industry of an Aquaculture National Sector Strategy. The feedback I received was that all attendees, from industry to local government, found the forum extremely useful. The Ministry is definitely interested in this type of role, to assist and facilitate stakeholders working together to achieve common goals. We will also be putting more of our efforts into promoting within Government and to the New Zealand public, the contribution by the fisheries and aquaculture sectors to the New Zealand economy and society.
Deed of Settlement implementation
In order to increase the involvement of tangata whenua in fisheries management, the Ministry has been implementing its Deed of Settlement Implementation Programme. So far the focus has been on the establishment of relationship managers, or Pou Hononga, and more recently the establishment of an extension services team. Nine Pou Hononga have been appointed to date. Their role is to:
- improve on the Ministry's formal relationship with Mäori through the establishment of regionally based iwi forums
- facilitate and broker relationships, using the forums, between iwi and hapü with the appropriate staff from the Ministry, and
- provide information to iwi and hapu on the customary fishing regulations, in particular the processes associated with the notification and appointment of Kai-ti-a-ki.
The Manager and three extension officers have been appointed recently and I attended their po-firi or welcome this week. In the long term each region/forum will have an extension officer. The extension services officers are there to assist each of the hapü and iwi representatives in undertaking their role in fisheries management. This means that they may help to identify their hapü's key objectives and how they might be achieved. This could be by way of a management plan, mätaitai reserve, or another method. Extension officers will help their hapu and iwi to participate effectively in the iwi forums.
To move onto 'environmental matters', in April 2005 the Minister of Fisheries, David Benson-Pope, approved the Strategy for Managing the Environmental Effects of Fishing. The strategy will clarify our obligations to manage the adverse effects of fishing on the marine environment through the development of environmental performance standards. It also establishes the requirement for fisheries managers to proactively demonstrate that they are meeting those standards.
I commend the efforts of most of the industry in respecting the environment that we depend on. But I think we can do better. I do not want to dwell on the failure of some fishers to use seabird mitigation measures in the squid fishery. The Minister made some strong points regarding this disappointing episode yesterday. It is imperative that adequate steps are put in place to sustainably manage the marine environment. The consequences of not doing so are simply too large, both for the industry and the Ministry.
The Ministry will be placing an increased focus on improving the environmental performance of fisheries. We intend to work together with stakeholders to establish clear outcomes and standards for fisheries and the effects of fishing on the aquatic environment. The environmental standards will be designed so as to provide fishery managers and stakeholders with flexibility in how to achieve the standards. But everyone must meet those standards. Where necessary, we will implement specific measures to ensure the environmental standards are met.
All stakeholder groups had input to the development of the Strategy for Managing the Environmental Effects of Fishing. I want this involvement of stakeholders to continue through the implementation phase. I strongly encourage you to be involved in the standard setting processes that will commence in the short term and then be developed progressively over the next few years.
While we are on the subject of things "environmental", I wish to briefly discuss marine biodiversity protection issues. The Ministry will continue to work with the Department of Conservation and other agencies to develop a Marine Protected Areas Policy. The objective of the policy is to protect marine biodiversity by establishing a network of MPAs that is comprehensive and representative of New Zealand's marine habitats and ecosystems. Following a period of consultation, officials are working to finalise the policy. Within the constraints of the separate statutory frameworks and government policy on biodiversity protection, we are working to develop an objective and transparent science driven approach to biodiversity protection that seeks to minimise impacts on current users and prioritise implementation based on risk.
I wish to recap briefly events that largely concluded before I became Chief Executive of the Ministry. A large number of fisheries-related regulatory reforms were passed in late 2004. These reforms were highly significant. They provide a very good basis for us to move forward on the sorts of initiatives that I have outlined today.
I am told that not many years go by without some change to the Fisheries Act. 2004 was not an exception - although we expect 2005 to be. The Fisheries Amendment Acts 2, 3 and 4 were passed last year.
The Fisheries Amendment Act number 3 contains a number of provisions that improve the 1996 Fisheries Act so that it can better achieve its purpose. In particular it streamlines the use of the QMS. The introduction of many species to the QMS over the last few years has been a huge workload for the Ministry. There are now 93 species or species complexes in the QMS, and 550 individual stocks. The species that will remain outside of the QMS are those with low commercial value and whose sustainability is not threatened.
The expansion of the QMS gives security as to who holds commercial fishing rights. It means that quota holders now have a secure platform to invest in research to develop effective harvest strategies, or to undertake management planning. It means that allocation within the commercial sector can occur more effectively.
The Fisheries Amendment Act number 4 amended the Fisheries Act to provide for the introduction of scampi into the QMS. The management of scampi has attracted a great deal of attention and controversy. Now that scampi is in the QMS, the government has given effect to the key recommendation of the scampi inquiry. I am pleased this debate has now concluded and we are able to move on.
December 2004 saw the passage of the aquaculture reforms. The new legislative regime for aquaculture provides an improved way of managing the competing interests for coastal space. As I noted earlier, I see a bright future for the aquaculture industry in New Zealand. The aquaculture reforms provide a sound basis for marine farming to grow in a sustainable manner that considers the many competing interests.
Implementation of the reforms is a big task, but one that the Ministry is committed to playing its role in. We have been sharing the information we hold with Councils to assist them in their role. We have also been working to implement the Mäori aquaculture settlement.
Of particular interest to commercial inshore fishers is the new way in which the aquaculture reforms deal with the potential conflicts between commercial fishing and marine farming. The Ministry of Fisheries is still responsible for deciding whether a proposed aquaculture management area will have an undue adverse effect on fishing. This decision maintains the integrity and benefits of the rights-based fisheries management system. It ensures the Crown delivers on its Treaty settlement obligations to Maori. It protects fishers' existing use and access rights.
The undue adverse effects test looks at the likely effect of a proposed aquaculture management area on commercial, recreational and customary fishing. The extent and type of fishing at the site is assessed. We are also required to take into account the cumulative effects of existing marine farming developments in the area.
The undue adverse effects test must be made using the best available information, and the Ministry must consult with commercial, recreational and customary fishers. Any areas within the proposed aquaculture management area that would unduly affect customary or recreational fishing will be removed from the aquaculture management area.
But the aquaculture reforms do provide a way for marine farming to proceed in areas where there is undue adverse effect on commercial fishers. However, the rights of those commercial fishers are protected. Anyone wanting to establish a marine farm in places where there is an undue adverse effect on commercial fishing must first reach an agreement with the affected quota holders. They cannot apply to undertake marine farming unless they reach agreement with the affected quota holders. This mechanism has been built into the legislation to protect fishing rights, and to enable the highest value to be obtained from the use of coastal space. I encourage inshore commercial fishers to work constructively with marine farmers in this context.
The passage of the Maori Fisheries Act concludes a very significant chapter in not only Maori fisheries, but also New Zealand fisheries. This Act sets out how the commercial fisheries settlement assets will be allocated. Mäori are already major and successful players in the industry. But in the past iwi have leased quota from the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission. Once iwi meet the requirements for permanent transfer of fisheries settlement assets, they will be able to undertake long-term planning. The position of Mäori in the industry will change and strengthen.
For the first time, many iwi will be able to plan to maximise the value of their assets. They will be able to develop catching, processing and marketing arrangements to bring the best return to their members. Coordination or cooperation with other New Zealand seafood companies may bring efficiencies and open up new opportunities.
The Ministry's commitment to growth and innovation isn't restricted to our domestic fisheries interests. We are playing a leading role in international and regional initiatives to improve the governance of high seas and shared fisheries, and to secure the long-term interests of the New Zealand fishing industry in those fisheries.
We have been working on the development of an international fisheries strategy. This strategy sets out our key objectives for the international component of our work. It provides a framework for discussion with stakeholders and other government departments on New Zealand's overall objectives in international fisheries fora. Stakeholder input into the international strategy will be sought in the coming weeks. I encourage you to think broadly about how international issues affect your business, and consider contributing to the development of the strategy.
In March this year the Minister of Fisheries announced our initiative with Australia to establish a new Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) covering non-highly migratory species in the Tasman Sea and the Southern Pacific Ocean. It will be a huge task to get it right. We mustn't underestimate the challenges that lie ahead, or shy away from them.
Establishing an RFMO will be a hurdle in itself given the range of countries that will need to be involved in negotiations. There are a multitude of challenges facing international fisheries today, including illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, over capacity, and the protection of marine biodiversity. Establishing an RFMO that can effectively deal with these issues will be difficult. But New Zealand is committed to RFMOs as a way forward. I personally look forward to working with you on this initiative in the coming months and years.
The Ministry is also seeking to play an increasing role in the wider Pacific region and the management of what are the world's largest and arguably healthiest toona stocks. We will work in support of our expanding industry presence in those fisheries, both longline and purse seine. We will also work in cooperation with Pacific Island countries for which the toona fisheries are the most important, if not the only, viable economic resource.
Further afield, but of significant potential benefit to the New Zealand fishing industry, New Zealand has been successful in moving the negotiation of new disciplines on fisheries subsidies onto the agenda of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Rules Negotiating Group. The outcome New Zealand is aiming to achieve is to:
- define comprehensive and enforceable rules on fisheries subsidies that reduce the trade distorting effects of subsidies,
- increase the value New Zealand obtains from its fishery resources, and
- reduce the environmental pressures caused by subsidies that promote over-capacity and over-exploitation.
This is obviously quite ambitious, but we need to aim high and play the long game. Representatives from the Ministry of Fisheries will attend meetings of the Rules Negotiating Group as part of New Zealand delegations to provide technical input and assistance to the definition and negotiation of comprehensive and enforceable rules on fisheries subsidies.
I look forward to working constructively with stakeholders on the management of New Zealand's fisheries. The Ministry of Fisheries is shifting its focus to develop an objectives-based approach to fisheries management. We will work with tangata whenua and stakeholders to develop management plans and to facilitate growth and innovation. We will also be placing an increased focus on the environmental performance of New Zealand's fisheries.
I hope that you share my enthusiasm for the future direction of fisheries management in New Zealand. I encourage you to take the opportunity to become involved in these new and developing initiatives in the fisheries sector.