Chief executives introduction
PROMOTING RESPONSIBLE FISHING
Much of the Ministry’s work this year, and our focus going forward, is in promoting responsible fishing. Responsible fishing is about harvesting fish in a way that is sustainable, so future generations can enjoy the economic, cultural and social benefits New Zealanders enjoy today. Responsible fishing is also about harvesting fish in a way that protects the marine environment and its biodiversity.
New Zealand has achieved a great deal in sustainable fisheries management. The quota management system has enabled New Zealand to tackle over-fishing, improve efficiency, increase the value obtained from fisheries and address concerns about M–aori fishing rights. Fisheries management is underpinned by good science and good cooperation between the Ministry and the fishing sector. The stock assessment process, for example, is based on research produced and reviewed by stakeholders and government scientists working together.
Nevertheless, the marine environment continues to come under pressure and this will only increase as New Zealand’s population grows. Competing interests and values can make the Ministry’s role a tough one. We need to work with stakeholders to resolve issues that inevitably arise. We need to engage with stakeholders more effectively so everyone understands the need to fish responsibly and what that entails.
While the Ministry does a reasonable job of engaging with the commercial sector, we need to lift our game with other groups. This year, we have put a number of structures in place to make it easier to communicate with non-commercial fishing interests. This includes appointing Te Tari o Te Kahui Pou Hononga (customary fishing relationship managers), introducing regional forums for customary and recreational fishers and establishing a Recreational Advisory Group to advise the Minister.
Protecting the marine environment is a core part of the Ministry’s function and pivotal to preserving the value of the fishery. Our activities this year, and our plans going forward, recognise there is a need for greater emphasis on the environmental performance of all those who use the marine environment.
This year, we completed our Strategy to Manage the Environmental Effects of Fishing, progressed the Marine Protected Areas policy and continued to work with other agencies and industry to protect biodiversity and limit the impact of fishing on other animals in the marine environment.
Since joining the Ministry in December 2004, I have been impressed with the level of competence among staff across the organisation. Staff are highly credible, effective and world class. At the same time, the Ministry is a relatively small organisation and cannot succeed in meeting the challenges involved in managing the fishery by itself. Regulations alone won’t achieve good value outcomes. We need to get to the point where the frameworks are in place and the information is available so all users of the marine environment do the right thing. It is not enough that people understand the rules. They also need to understand why they are there and how compliance contributes to value outcomes.
This year, we finalised our Statement of Intent for 2005-2008 which revises and refines our strategy for managing fisheries. We have already made significant progress in implementing this strategy in terms of increased leadership, engagement and cooperation. Much of the Ministry’s year has been about preparing to meet the challenges involved in taking our management system to the next level. This report outlines these achievements. It also looks to the future as we continue to work with all those with an interest in the marine environment to maximise the value New Zealanders get from our fisheries resources and do a better job of protecting the aquatic environment.
New Zealand has a very sound fisheries management regime and a strong Ministry with dedicated and skilled people. The previous chief executive Warwick Tuck can take much of the credit for this achievement. Over the coming years, my intention is to build on the strong foundation from the previous ten years and to maintain our place as a rightful world leader.