The Ministry's Role
The Ministry’s role, as outlined in the Ministry’s 2006-2011 Statement of Intent, is to be the Government’s principal adviser on New Zealand’s fisheries management and impacts of fishing on the aquatic environment. Our role also encompasses issues that may impact on the continued viability of fisheries and other marine resources. Sustainability of the sector is a cornerstone of our work on a policy and operational level.
Fisheries is a significant primary industry for New Zealand, contributing $1.3 billion in export earnings to our economy each year, providing direct employment for more than 7,000 New Zealanders, and recreational fishing opportunities for many more. For many New Zealanders, in particular tangata whenua, access to fisheries has a cultural and spiritual value that cannot be quantified.
Fisheries exist in an ever changing environment – fish stocks are not static, either in number or in location. Along with those species that are found only in New Zealand waters, we share interests with other nations in those species that are highly migratory and straddle the New Zealand EEZ. This means that not only do we have a significant role to play in this country in terms of fisheries management, we also take our voice to the international community. Environmental issues are of increasing concern to New Zealanders, including the environmental effects of fishing. These issues are complex and there is ongoing work to achieve and maintain balance between current needs and concerns and ensuring that future generations have access to fisheries and can realise value from this important resource.
Part of our role is ensuring that people within New Zealand have an understanding of the value of our fisheries, and the limitations on use of some fish stocks that must exist, because of the shared values that different sectors place upon them. Gathering and interpreting information is also vital, scientifically and from a policy perspective. We continue to lead in ensuring scientific information on the status of our fisheries is gathered and analysed, making information widely available through our publishing programmes.
The coming years will see the Ministry exercise even stronger leadership in the fisheries sector. This past year has seen considerable ground work in this area, as evidenced by the fisheries plan development work, stakeholder engagement over draft standards, consultation over those fisheries that are shared by a number of stakeholders, and management strategies for reducing the effects of fishing on species that are not targeted by fishers.
Consultation forms a major part of this work and the Ministry has invested strongly in consultation with stakeholders and building our ability to work cooperatively with iwi, other groups and organisations.
This includes building the capacity of our staff, and our organisation as a whole, to deliver on the demanding workload that we have set for ourselves.
In short, along with our work to achieve the best managed fisheries in the world, we aim to fully realise our leadership role, and make the Ministry of Fisheries an employer of choice for people who want to work in this stimulating and challenging sector.
The Fisheries Sector
The Ministry works with four major fisheries sector interest groups – commercial, customary, amateur and environmental. Balancing rights with restrictions requires consultation, a deep understanding of the sector, and a focus on achieving best value for all fishers.Environmental
interests are represented by a number of groups around the country that, like the Ministry, have strong interests in the sustainability of fisheries and the effects of fishing on the aquatic environment.
In the commercial
area, while eight fishing companies provide 80 percent of New Zealand’s production, there are many medium and smaller fishing operations that contribute to the significant market value of this industry. Aquaculture also contributes more than $200 million in export earnings, and recent investment by government is intended to see this increase significantly in future. The Ministry works with the commercial sector through national representatives, such as SeaFIC and Aquaculture New Zealand, and commercial stakeholder organisations that represent the various commercial fisheries.
Along with a major role in commercial fishing, Māori have important rights and interests as customary non-commercial fishers. Both the practice of gathering customary food and the places where Māori gather it are special to tangata whenua. The Crown has an obligation to consult with Māori about these rights and develop policies to help recognise their use and management practices. To help with this the Ministry works closely with iwi and hapu on issues at both the regional and national level.
It is estimated that at least 20 percent of all New Zealanders fish in the sea for their personal use. While exercising this right, like other interest groups, amateur fishers are expected to abide by the restrictions that are in place to ensure fisheries are managed and used in a sustainable way. There is no single representative body that covers all amateur fishers, and the Ministry works with a range of groups around the country. Work to better recognise non-commercial values is ongoing and part of wider consultation processes on fisheries plans and standards, threat management plans and shared fisheries.
Interagency cooperation and collaboration within the sector
Even stakeholders with a common interest, such as commercial fishing, may have diverse perspectives and may vary in the degree to which they want to be engaged in consultation processes. When consultation is led by more than one government agency, this can add a level of complexity.
The Ministry of Fisheries’ approach is cooperative; sharing knowledge, discussing issues and, where possible, reaching agreement on courses of action. Through this, tangata whenua and stakeholders can have greater certainty that agencies share a common focus around issues under consultation.
Interagency projects include biosecurity and primary sector economic transformation initiatives with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), and cooperative relationships with the New Zealand Police, the New Zealand Customs Service and the Ministry of Defence and NZ Defence Force in relation to surveillance, patrol and enforcement. The Ministry works with DOC on Marine Protected Areas and freshwater initiatives. The past year has seen the two organisations working together to amend regulations that manage the movement of freshwater fish and farming of fish on land-based sites. The Ministry has also actively supported, through funding and staff time, the National Maritime Co-ordination Centre (NMCC).
The Ministry works collaboratively with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to develop a New Zealand position for negotiations within Regional Fisheries Management Organisations and in multi-lateral forums such as the World Trade Organization and the United Nations.
Throughout the year, fisheries compliance officers and managers worked with counterparts in Australia in support of the development of new operating procedures, training and development initiatives, and sharing of information on new technology developments.
Efforts to increase the economic returns of the aquaculture industry has seen this become a whole-of-government initiative and the Ministry has worked closely with Ministry for the Environment, DOC, Ministry of Economic Development, Te Puni Kokiri and NZ Trade and Enterprise. And, in relation to Treaty Settlements, the Ministry works closely with other agencies including the Office of Treaty Settlements and the Ministry of Justice.