Building on Success – Charting the Way toward a Sustainable Future
I’m pleased to present my first Annual Report as Chief Executive of the Ministry of Fisheries. The achievements of the past year are a credit to all Ministry staff, but in particular to Stan Crothers, who was Acting Chief Executive until I joined the Ministry in January 2008.
My overriding impression is that the New Zealand fishing sector has a sound foundation, great people, and is at the leading edge of fisheries management. Our careful management over the last two decades has put us in a strong position compared with many other countries. This is not an accident. We’ve worked hard as a nation to build strong foundations for fisheries management. Our methods are innovative and successful compared with many other countries, where some are now fighting to save their fisheries. In New Zealand we’re striving for better value and planning for a sustainable future.
We still have a wide range of strategic choices. We also have a sector with diverse interests and views. To successfully face the challenges of the future we need to work together to build a consensus about where we’re heading.
The Ministry is now developing Fisheries 2030 – a vision and strategy for the future management of our fisheries, both domestically and internationally. We’ve just begun preliminary talks with key stakeholder representatives, ahead of a round of formal public consultation early next year.
Consultation on the Ministry’s Treaty Strategy is also underway. This strategy is intended to ensure the Crown delivers on its specific fisheries obligations to Mäori, as part of its responsibilities under the Fisheries Act 1996 and the 1992 Deed of Settlement.
Over the coming months Ministry staff will attend hui around the country to discuss these issues with tangata whenua and look at ways to assist future iwi participation in Ministry processes.
To further enhance our engagement with iwi, this year we established an Iwi Leadership Group. This group is made up of respected iwi leaders who will provide ongoing advice and support to our Strategic Leadership Team on ways to improve our relationships with and deliver on our obligations to tangata whenua.
Good progress has been made this past year in the development of fisheries plans with stakeholders around the country. This process has seen tangata whenua and stakeholders from a range of sectors work together to plan for the future of our fisheries. This is an exciting time in fisheries management and the first fisheries plans are beginning to take shape.
This year saw significant progress in the shared fisheries policy initiative. The joint proposal received from the Seafood Industry Council, the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission Te Ohu Kai Moana and the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council to work collectively on these issues represents important progress in this area. A working group and a 12 member steering group, with broad participation across the fisheries sector, was also established. Over the coming year we intend to work together to review and further develop the ideas generated from this group’s collaboration.
In the international arena we’re building our reputation and taking the lead in important negotiations. Globally, fisheries are changing dramatically so our input and involvement in these multi-lateral forums and agreements is crucial to keep us ahead of the tide. Our involvement in several high-level compliance operations in the past year has also strengthened our relationships and proved our commitment to our international obligations.
Environmental certification is fast becoming an expected quality standard. Assurance of environmental sustainability, like assurance of food hygiene and safety, is becoming simply another part of doing business, particularly in the international market. To be competitive we need to become a world leader in demonstrating the environmental performance of our fisheries. The government has now set up a contestable certification fund to encourage the New Zealand fishing and aquaculture industries to demonstrate and improve on their environmental performance through independent certification.
A notable achievement for the Ministry this past year was the highly publicised Operation PAID – our largest domestic enforcement operation in recent years. Operation PAID reeled in nearly 70 suspects after a covert investigation into a gang poaching paua from the Wellington coastline. Poaching deprives recreational fishers of the opportunity to catch a meal, threatens an iconic customary fishery, and robs the commercial industry and the economy of millions of dollars in domestic and export earnings. The results of this operation are a credit to the fishery officers and police involved and will act as a deterrent to those considering involvement in illegal fishing activity.
This year we have continued to support the development of New Zealand’s aquaculture industry. Aquaculture has immense potential for growth and we intend to support this industry to reach its future goals.
Our focus now, and in the years to come, is to continue to build on our success and to chart the way toward a sustainable future for New Zealand’s fisheries.
Pursuant to section 39 of the Public Finance Act 1989, I am pleased to present our Annual Report on the operations of the Ministry of Fisheries for the year ended 30 June 2008.