Annual Report for the Year Ended 30 June 2004
Ministry of Fisheries Annual Report for the year ended 30 June 2004
Minister of Fisheries
Pursuant to section 39 of the Public Finance Act 1989, I am pleased to present my Annual Report on the operations of the Ministry of Fisheries for the year ended 30 June 2004.
Ministry of Fisheries
This is my ninth and last annual report as Chief Executive of the Ministry of Fisheries, a position I have been proud and pleased to hold since the Ministry was established on 1 July 1995.
In the last nine years, the management of fisheries in New Zealand has undergone significant change. Particular highlights are the establishment of the Ministry of Fisheries as a stand-alone government department, the implementation of the 1996 Fisheries Act, the reinforcement of the quota management system as the core framework for managing New Zealand’s fisheries, the transfer and contracting of administrative functions relating to the commercial fishing sector, and the ongoing delivery of the Crown’s obligations under the Fisheries Deed of Settlement.
It is, however, time for me to move on and for someone else to take the Ministry forward to the next stage of its development. This includes, in particular, developing and progressively implementing stock strategies for most fish species, while enabling stakeholders to develop fisheries plans independently of Ministry stock strategies. As part of this work, I anticipate significant further change to the Ministry’s services and processes over the next three years, building on recent changes to the Ministry’s governance and organisation. The financial year just completed was the first in which the Ministry prepared a Statement of Intent to guide its operations.
The 2003/04 output plan and budgets were presented against the backdrop of a five-year focus. The Statement of Intent looked at how the Ministry would work in collaboration with the wide range of interested groups who participate in fisheries management planning and decisionmaking.
It built on the Ministry’s Strategic Plan released in early 2003 and supported Ministers’ focus of enhancing the value and enjoyment of our fisheries for all New Zealanders and minimising the risks to our marine environment.
The Ministry’s goal for the sector is to Maximise the value New Zealanders obtain through the sustainable use of fisheries resources and protection of the aquatic environment. It is supported by three strategies:
||Protect the health of the aquatic environment.|
||Enable people to get the best value from the sustainable and efficient use of fisheries.|
||Ensure the Crown delivers on its obligations to Māori with respect to fisheries.|
During the last financial year the Ministry made considerable progress in the activities that contributed to these strategies, including:
- our fisheries and biosecurity research programmes
- our work with the Department of Conservation on marine reserve proposals and measures to protect sea lions, and Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins
- the release by the Ministers of Fisheries and Conservation of the National Plan of Action for Seabirds
- our work on aquaculture and recreational fisheries reforms
- our work in the international arena
- the introduction of 19 new species into the quota management system
- our work leading to the Minister’s annual sustainability decisions
- progressing the Maori Fisheries Bill currently under consideration by the Fisheries and Other Sea-Related Legislation Committee
- developing a strategy to ensure the Ministry is able to deliver on the Crown’s Fisheries Deed of Settlement obligations, and building capacity to engage with Māori on customary fisheries issues, and
all but completing strategies related to marine protection and managing the environmental effects of fishing.
The progress we made in these and other areas during the year is described in more detail under "Key Achievements" .
The Ministry was involved extensively during the year in supporting Select Committee consideration of three Bills.
These were the:
- Fisheries Amendment Bill (No. 2)
- Fisheries Amendment Bill (No. 3) - subsequently separated into Fisheries Amendment Bill (No. 3) and (No. 4), and
- Maori Fisheries Bill.
At the end of the financial year, the latter two Bills were still under consideration by the Primary Production Committee and the Fisheries and Other Sea-Related Legislation Committee respectively.
During the year, the catch level for hoki was reduced on 1 October 2003 and a further reduction is expected shortly. The 1 October 2003 reduction, coupled with the strengthened New Zealand dollar, placed significant financial pressure on the fishing industry, with a significant downturn in export receipts.
The Ministry has continued to deliver on its ongoing responsibilities in the areas of fisheries management, cost recovery, research, enforcement and registry monitoring.
At the same time, we made considerable progress in positioning the Ministry for the future. This included changing the Ministry’s governance and organisation so we can properly implement the enhanced fisheries management regime inherent in the fisheries stock strategies/fisheries plan framework. The changes were not about downsizing, cutting costs or making staff redundant. I made final decisions on the new arrangements at the end of May, after consulting with and receiving feedback from staff. Implementation is now underway and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
The decisions meant, inter alia, that the Ministry’s governance and organisation would include the Chief Executive and four General Managers, each responsible for one of four Business Groups: Policy and Strategy, Fisheries Management, Fisheries Services and Corporate Services. Before these changes, the Ministry’s governance arrangements included the Chief Executive and two Deputy Chief Executives, with ten business units, each reporting to one of the Deputy Chief Executives. Since the end of the financial year, I have decided not to proceed with the establishment of the Fisheries Services Business Group, or at least, not at this stage.
The Ministry was involved extensively during the year with other departments in working through the implementation of the New Zealand Biosecurity Strategy. One of the outcomes of this work is that Chief Executives have agreed the Ministry’s marine biosecurity functions should be transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. This decision was recently confirmed by Ministers and will be implemented during the financial year starting 1 July 2004.
During the year, work outstanding from the previous year on fishery officer health and safety was progressed. The Ministry’s fishery officers work in a very difficult environment and it is important they operate with appropriate health and safety protections in place. A range of interventions has been implemented in recent years. The question of whether fishery officers should be authorised to carry pepper spray and batons in fulfilling their day-to-day responsibilities was addressed during the last year. Changes to the law would be required. This work will continue in the new financial year.
The two Inquiries into the management of the scampi fishery concluded during the last year. Both Inquiries had origins in allegations of corruption and impropriety by staff of the former Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the current Ministry of Fisheries. Two of my senior managers were specifically named by those making and co-ordinating the allegations. In the end, both departments, as well as the named staff, were vindicated. There was nothing to substantiate the corruption allegations, which had no foundation.
The Inquiries made a number of recommendations, both in relation to fisheries management and the performance of the Ministry of Fisheries. These included the need for the Ministry to be less defensive and to give greater emphasis to fairness and even-handedness in decision-making while continuing to emphasise legal compliance.
At the time of signing this report, the fisheries management recommendations from the Primary Production Committee’s report had been addressed and negotiations were continuing with five of the fishers for whom ex gratia payments were recommended on account of justified grievances. A settlement with one of the fishers named by the Committee had been concluded. The recommendations from the Reviewers appointed by the State Services Commissioner are actively being addressed, both within the Ministry and also, insofar as they have wider application in the Public Service, across departments.
As I reported last year, supporting the two Inquiries was resource and time intensive, with a large proportion of the time taken up with events that largely preceded the establishment of the Ministry. The two Inquiries resulted in significant opportunity costs to fisheries management, particularly in 2002/03 as well as considerable personal stress on staff and their families and on the Ministry as a whole. The total financial cost of the Inquiries came to $5 million of which $3.8 million was in the 2002/03 financial year.
Departmental operating expenditure at $68.5 million was below the Supplementary Estimates appropriations by some $11.6 million, excl. GST, with each output class being within its individual appropriation. Of the total underexpenditure, $1.0 million is attributable to Vote Biosecurity - Fisheries and $10.6 million is attributable to Vote Fisheries.
The Vote Biosecurity - Fisheries underspending was caused largely through delays in tendering and awarding research contracts, which are part of the Government’s Biodiversity Strategy. Provision has been made to transfer this underexpenditure into the 2004/05 financial year.
The Vote Fisheries under-expenditure was due largely to:
- Delays in tendering and awarding contracts required to deliver the Government’s Biodiversity Strategy. These amounted to $0.9 million and provision has been made to transfer this funding into the 2004/05 financial year.
- Delays in tendering and awarding fisheries research projects and the withdrawal of some projects, together totalling $6.5 million. Some research proposals were delayed because they depend on results from other research still in progress. Other projects are still in the tendering process, and rescheduling milestones has led to some projects being deferred to 2004/05. Provision has been made to transfer up to $4.8 million of this funding to the 2004/05 year.
In addition, there was a further $3.2 million of underexpenditure across all other outputs.
I thank the two Ministers of Fisheries I have had the pleasure of working with during the year, the Hon Pete Hodgson and the Hon David Benson-Pope, and the Associate Minister of Fisheries, the Hon Parekura Horomia, for their support.
I thank my staff for their excellent work and support not just during the last year, but throughout my tenure. Because of individual and joint efforts over nine years, we now have one of the best fisheries regimes in the world. Eighty percent of fish stocks for which we have information are above, at, or near target levels and rebuilding strategies are in place for the remaining 20 percent.
It has been a wonderful experience working with so many competent and dedicated people over this time. You have been simply superb. I am confident, with such good staff, the future of fisheries management in New Zealand and the Ministry of Fisheries is assured.