MANAGING FOR OUTCOMES
The Ministry of Fisheries (MFish) uses the statements of desired outcomes, outlined in our Statement of Intent document, to guide what we do. They outline what we want to achieve and how we will use incentives, management interventions and fisheries services to work towards these outcomes.
The primary fisheries outcome that forms the over-arching goal of our work is, that:
“The value New Zealanders obtain through the sustainable use of fisheries resources and protection of the aquatic environment is maximised.”
In the 2007-12 Statement of Intent, the Ministry had three contributing outcomes to support the achievement of this primary outcome:
- the health of the aquatic environment is protected
- people are able to realise the best value from the sustainable and efficient use of fisheries resources
- credible fisheries management.
The Ministry has begun work on a new Fisheries 2030 vision and strategy that will guide our future fisheries management over the next two decades and New Zealand’s input and position on management of international fisheries.
The 2030 vision and strategy will set the high-level aspirations and outcomes. It will outline how the vision will be achieved and provide a framework for policy, legal and institutional arrangements needed to achieve the vision.
Stakeholder engagement is essential to develop a shared vision. Involving all those with an interest in our fisheries in the consultation will result in more buy-in and ownership of that long-term vision by all. This should also provide stakeholders with greater confidence to engage, participate in, and support progress in fisheries management.
The Ministry has engaged the services of a consultancy firm to facilitate discussions on the vision and strategy with stakeholders in a series of workshops, which began in August 2008. Development work and consultation will continue on into the 2009 year.
More certainty is needed around how Total Allowable Catch (TAC) allocation between fisheries sectors is addressed. This has particular application for setting allowances prior to establishing the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) and is important to properly support the development of medium and long-term plans.
In recent years a range of initiatives have been undertaken to address this uncertainty. In 2006, a public consultation paper, Shared Fisheries – Proposals for managing New Zealand’s shared fisheries, was sent out for consultation. Following this, in the 2006/07 year, a large, nationwide Shared Fisheries consultation process took place that tackled this and other related fisheries issues.
At the conclusion of this process a joint proposal from the Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC), Waitangi Fisheries Commission Te Ohu Kai Moana (TOKM) and the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council (NZRFC) was received and accepted by the government. The group proposed to collectively address the three key issues raised in the discussion paper–information, governance and representation in the recreational sector, and stakeholder negotiated solutions.
This collaborative cross-sector stakeholder group is a very constructive development. The close involvement of stakeholders provides good prospects for progress on a difficult shared fisheries issue. Representative groups in the recreational sector have put aside their differences to collectively engage in negotiation of a way forward with the commercial and customary sectors. The Ministry is providing support to this group by assisting with costs associated with this work.
The initial report to the Minister from the working group is due early 2009. Following consideration of this report the Minister will report back to Cabinet with proposals to move the shared fisheries policy forward.
Treaty Strategy – Improving Iwi Involvement in Fisheries Management
As part of the Ministry’s broad goal of building a strong working relationship with Māori, the Ministry’s Treaty Strategy is intended to ensure the Crown delivers on its fisheries obligations to tangata whenua.
During the 2007/08 year, the Ministry has developed a consultation paper to stimulate discussion with tangata whenua about the processes available for their input and participation in fisheries management. This is an obligation for the Minister of Fisheries, set out in section 12 (1)(b) of the Fisheries Act 1996.
The immediate focus is to explore ways to improve existing processes like iwi forums, and participation in fisheries plans, to enable iwi to better voice their views to the Ministry. The regional forums started in 2004, so it is timely to review how this engagement is going and whether any changes need to be made. There have also been developments in legislation and policies that might affect the best way to work together.
The discussions will also look at ways to assist iwi participation in Ministry processes through the development of planning frameworks that iwi could use to establish their objectives for fisheries, set priorities, and develop policies for their customary, commercial and recreational interests in fisheries.
A number of hui are scheduled between August and October 2008 to discuss the proposals and hear the views of tangata whenua.
Once the Ministry has concluded consultation with iwi and determined the most appropriate way to meet statutory requirements, we will adjust our processes accordingly.
Section 13 Amendment
The High Court ruling over the Area 1 Orange Roughy fishery in February 2008 has made an amendment to the Fisheries Act necessary.
Section 13 of the Fisheries Act 1996 requires that the Minister set a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) that maintains, rebuilds, or reduces a fish stock to a level at or above that which can produce the maximum sustainable yield (MSY). This is known as the target stock level. The Court found that before the Minister of Fisheries can set a TAC under section 13 of the Act for any fishery, he or she must have received estimates of the current stock level of the fishery, as well as its target stock level. However the information needed to produce such estimates are only available for very few of the 629 fish stocks in our Quota Management System. To get the information would, in many cases, be unreasonably costly in both time and resources.
The Ministry evaluated the need for an amendment and the approach to take. The conclusion was that the other approaches, that are not inconsistent with maintaining stock sizes above MSY level, were fundamentally sound and should continue to be used. These stock assessment approaches are commonly used in other jurisdictions including Australia, the United States and Canada, who have similar types of fisheries and management approaches.
The Fisheries Act 1996 Amendment Bill (No. 2) is now being considered by Parliament. The amendment bill will enable TACs to continue to be set under section 13 using existing management approaches, even where the current stock level of a fishery and the biomass that can produce MSY are not able to be estimated reliably. The amendment will not change the general approach of the Fisheries Act. It will not alter the balance between the objectives of sustainability and utilisation either, nor will it alter the balance of interests between stakeholder groups.
Moving Toward a New Model for Cost Recovery
Cost recovery has long been a contentious issue between industry and government. In general, industry feels that they should pay less, and that the services could be provided in a more cost effective way. However, cost recovery has provided valuable incentives for both industry and the Ministry, including motivation for improved environmental performance and careful examination of the nature and extent of services necessary to manage fisheries and the effects of fishing.
Costs on the industry are not insignificant, ranging between $30-36 million per year since 1995.
In late 2006, the government agreed to a review of the cost recovery rules. Throughout 2007, a joint government-industry working group tried to agree on a way forward, but no consensus was reached.
The Minister of Fisheries is currently considering a range of options for moving forward as a result of this review.