As Acting Chief Executive it falls to me to introduce this Annual Report. However, the achievements of the past year are to the credit of the whole Ministry, and in particular to Dr John Glaister who was Chief Executive until 30 June 2007.
John made the decision to return to Australia for family reasons after two and a half years as Chief Executive and I would like to acknowledge his leadership and his contribution to the further development of the Ministry. We wish him and his family well.
On 1 October 2006 we celebrated the twentieth anniversary of New Zealand's Quota Management System. The system has proved a sound basis for fisheries management. It has underpinned the economic development of New Zealand's seafood industry and has helped ensure sustainability of our target fish stocks. It also gives us a strong foundation to enhance our management to better provide for non-commercial fishing and to deal with the impacts fishing has on the marine environment.
The environmental performance of the New Zealand fisheries sector is not yet at world best-practice. However, in 2006/07 we made good progress to improve this situation.
At a policy level, the Ministry looked at how New Zealand implements the internationally accepted precautionary approach to fisheries management, and we began to develop environmental standards for fisheries.
On a more operational level, we worked collaboratively with the fishing industry to protect around 30 percent of New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from the effects of bottom trawling. We also worked with industry to reduce seabird by-catch in deep sea trawl fisheries, and began gathering new information on the effects of trawling on soft sediment sea-beds.
Overseas, New Zealand took a strong international lead in the United Nations and in the South Pacific to protect sensitive marine eco-systems from the effects of bottom fishing.
Our inshore highlights include working with the Department of Conservation on implementing the new Marine Protected Areas Policy, as well as protection measures for seabed habitats and iconic species like dolphins and seabirds.
The Ministry's other important work areas this year include laying the groundwork for fisheries plans, our role in encouraging sustainable aquaculture development and our work to resolve the issue of allocation in shared fisheries.
The 2006/07 year saw us addressing fisheries management issues that challenged our relationships with fisheries stakeholders. The Ministry will have to continue to invest in improving these relationships in the future. There was slow and steady progress made in building more productive relationships with tangata whenua and implementing customary fishing regulations.
This year we also made major investments in Ministry staff and infrastructure. Sound fisheries management relies on good people having access to the best possible information. I know these investments in Ministry staff, information systems and other assets will ensure we continue delivering good fisheries management outcomes for all New Zealanders.
The Ministry looks forward to further opportunities of working with tangata whenua and fisheries stakeholders to build on the progress we made in 2006/07.
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 2007.
G.T. (Stan) Crothers
Acting Chief Executive