Fisheries and Marine Biosecurity sector
New Zealand's fisheries resources are valuable and of considerable interest to a wide range of New Zealanders. Mäori have strong cultural ties with fisheries which are recognised through the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992. Some 20 per cent of New Zealand's population are recreational fishers. Fisheries matters attract considerable interest from environmentalists and the wider public.
The New Zealand exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is the fourth largest in the world at approximately 1.3 million square nautical miles. A characteristic of the EEZ is its depth, with 72% in waters more than 1,000 metres deep, 22% between 200-1000 metres, and only 6% less than 200 metres. Fishing within the EEZ is heavily reliant on species found in waters at depths ranging from 200-1200 metres, rather than species found in shallower waters.
Despite the size of the New Zealand EEZ, our fisheries resources are not as abundant or productive as in many other parts of the world, due to factors such as a narrow continental shelf, a lack of nutrient upwellings, and being on the periphery of the range of highly migratory species such as tuna. Nevertheless our marine ecosystems and species are highly diverse. About 8,000 marine species have been found in New Zealand waters, including 964 species of fish, 2,000 species of molluscs (snails, shellfish, and squid), 400 species of echinoderms (kina, and starfish), and 900 species of seaweed. The result is a wide variety of marine plants and animals with a patchy distribution.
The commercial fisheries sector is New Zealand's fourth largest export earner. In 2001, the export value from the fishing industry was $1.5 billion, including $230 million from aquaculture production. Exports account for by far the largest proportion of the product with about 90% by value being exported. The industry is also a large employer, involving some 26,000 people through direct employment and flow on effects. Unlike most other countries, the New Zealand industry receives no government subsidies and, in addition, makes a contribution to the costs of fisheries management through cost recovery.
Status of the stocks and marine environment
Approaches to fishery management continue to evolve as understanding of the marine environment increases and attitudes change. There is recognition that fisheries are part of an ecosystem and should not be managed in isolation. Growing awareness of the need to maintain wider ecosystem viability is moving us towards an integrated approach to fisheries and environmental management.
While both MFish and the industry put significant resources and time into monitoring stock status, the nature of fish populations and the limited available information makes evaluating the state of New Zealand's marine ecosystems difficult.
Coastal fisheries were heavily depleted in the two decades prior to 1985. Since 1986, most QMS stocks for which biomass and productivity data are known are thought to be above sustainable levels. However, for most of the species managed under the QMS, too little is known to be able to assess stock status.
For several species where information is available, stocks have been depleted below levels judged to produce maximum sustainable yields1 , but management strategies are in place to rebuild these stocks to sustainable levels. The 14 fish stocks that are known to be below maximum sustainable yield include oyster, gemfish, orange roughy, paua, snapper and crayfish stocks. In all cases a rebuild strategy is in place allowing the stock to rebuild over time to maximum sustainable yield.
Shellfish and some other marine invertebrates remain vulnerable to over-harvest and habitat degradation, caused by sediment from rivers, pollution, changes in sea temperature, and fishing activities. Although our coastal waters and habitats are generally held to be of high quality by international standards, they are under stress in some areas, particularly near large estuarine towns and cities and the mouths of large rivers. Estuarine and marine ecosystems are also threatened by the invasion of exotic species; a problem aggravated by vessels transporting ballast water and hull encrustations.
Little is known about the composition of benthic species, the resilience and regenerative capacity of deepwater seamount habitat, or the actual nature and extent of damage by trawling. The history of seamount fisheries in the northern hemisphere is one of sequential collapse, and concerns about rapid decline of deepwater fish stocks in seamount fisheries in New Zealand and Australia suggests such habitat could be quite fragile, and trawling may have an effect on long term productivity.
MFish has a research planning process for the provision of information required to support fisheries management decisions. This process provides directions for future research needs, including medium-term research plans and short-term research proposals. Research needs are identified from a number of sources, including fisheries assessment meetings (including liaison networks), research science providers and MFish.
Despite the diversity in marine species found in the New Zealand EEZ, as few as 130 are fished commercially. Of these, only 43 species are commercially significant. The deepwater species (hoki, hake, ling, orange roughy, oreo dories, squid, and silver warehou) as well as spiny red rock lobster, paua (abalone), greenshell mussels, and snapper dominate the fishing industry. The following graphs show the value of exported production and the value of catch for selected species.
About 750,000 tonnes of seafood is harvested annually from New Zealand's fisheries. Seventy percent of fish taken is from our deepwater and midwater fisheries, while 11% are pelagic, 10% are farmed species, and 9% are from our inshore fisheries.
Ninety percent of the seafood industry's revenue comes from exports. Our major export markets are Japan (22%), other Asian countries (28%), United States (18%) and Australia (12%). Less than $140 million of the seafood industry's revenue came from domestic sales in 2001.
In the 1970s, open access to fisheries resources and emphasis on increasing commercial harvest led to over-fishing, which impacted on fishstocks and returns to fishers. The extension of New Zealand control over the EEZ, coupled with new technology, meant that our fishing industry could expand to fish new species and areas. The introduction of the QMS in 1986 was partly aimed at addressing over-fishing.
As a result of the fisheries settlement Mäori now own around 40% of quota and have additional involvement in another 20% of quota. The commercial assets are currently held and managed by TOKM, which is developing an allocation model for distribution of the assets to iwi. Many iwi may have the opportunity to become directly involved in the commercial fishing industry.
Aquaculture is an important activity in terms of the contribution it makes to the economy. Aquaculture exports have grown significantly in the last ten years: from $68 million in 1991 to $229 million in 2001. Most of this growth in export value has come from the farming of green-lipped mussels, which in 2001 were valued at $157 million, ranking them as the fourth largest seafood export. Other important farmed species (and their 2001 export value) include quinnat salmon ($59 million) and Pacific oyster ($13.6 million). Techniques are being developed to farm a variety of new species, such as seaweed, paddle crabs, rock lobster, koura, seahorses, kingfish, snapper, flatfish and sponges.
Recreational fishing, both marine and fresh water, is a popular activity. Surveys indicate that up to 20% of the population engage in marine recreational fishing annually, gaining a variety of benefits, ranging from enjoyment and relaxation to sustenance for their families. Recreational fishing also contributes to the economy, through business for equipment suppliers, charter boat operators and tourist facilities. Research into the value of recreational fishing estimates the expenditure made by recreational fishers to catch five key recreational species to be nearly $1 billion per annum. As the population concentration grows in areas such as Auckland there is increased pressure on the regional recreational resources.
While marine recreational fishers may catch at least 40 species, the main species are snapper, blue cod, kahawai, rock lobster, paua and scallops. Many of the species taken by recreational fishers are fished in competition with the commercial fishing sector. In a relatively small number of fisheries, such as the snapper fishery off the north-east coast of the North Island, and the blue cod fishery at the top of the South Island, recreational catch makes up a large proportion of the total catch.
Legislative framework and regulatory management
The Fisheries Act 1996 provides the legislative framework for managing fisheries resources. The purpose of the Act is to provide for utilisation of fisheries resources while ensuring sustainability. In giving effect to the purpose of the Act, decision makers are required to take into account environmental and information principles, and to act consistently with the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992 and international obligations.
Fisheries are a common pool resource, which requires government intervention to avoid the potential for overexploitation from the demands of competing levels of commercial, recreational and customary Mäori fishing activity. This intervention can be direct, such as the imposition of regulatory controls on fishing, or indirect through the establishment of legal frameworks that create rights and responsibilities for users to manage the resource sustainably.
The Treaty of Waitangi guarantees customary fishing rights. Various claimants commenced legal proceedings over the establishment of the QMS in 1986 arguing that it effectively alienated Mäori from their fisheries rights secured by Article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi, and required the Crown to settle the resulting claims. In 1989 the Mäori Fisheries Act provided for the establishment of the Mäori Fisheries Commission and transferred 10% of the TACCs of all species in the QMS to the Commission until a method of allocation and distribution was determined. In 1992, as part of the claims settlement process, the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992 was enacted. This Act provided Mäori with a half share in Sealord Group Limited and guarantees Mäori access to commercial fishing through the Crown's obligation to allocate 20% of all quota for new species coming into the QMS. The Settlement has completed the Crown's obligations arising from the Treaty of Waitangi, and all claims by Mäori to fishing rights under the Treaty are settled.
The Fisheries Act establishes a broad framework for managing customary, recreational and commercial fishing. The Minister of Fisheries is required to establish sustainable catch levels for fisheries managed for harvest. For each stock a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) is set, either at the time of entry into the Quota Management System (QMS) or when the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC), set under the Fisheries Act 1983, of an existing QMS stock is varied. In most cases the TAC is set according to target levels referenced to producing maximum sustainable yield. The TACC is a subset of the TAC, after allowances are made (outside the QMS) for non-commercial fishing interests and other sources of fishing-induced mortality.
The Settlement Act obliges the Crown to involve tangata whenua in fisheries management decisions and recognise Mäori customary non-commercial fishing rights and management practices. The Fisheries Act provides for a number of tools and processes that are available to Mäori in recognition of customary rights. Customary fishing regulations recognise and provide for customary food gathering by Mäori, and the special relationship between tangata whenua and places of customary food gathering importance. Kaitiaki, or guardians of the tangata whenua, manage the exercise of customary fishing rights. Regulations covering customary fishing provide for kaitiaki of the tangata whenua to issue customary fishing authorisations for fishing within their area. The regulations do not remove the right of tangata whenua to catch their recreational limits under the recreational fishing regulations, nor do they provide for commercial fishing.
The customary fishing regulations also provide for establishing mätaitai reserves, being traditional fishing grounds and areas of special significance to tangata whenua, with tangata whenua managing all non-commercial fishing in mataitai.
Customary rights to manage fishing are also exercisable through taiapure/local fisheries areas and temporary closures.
The basic legal right underpinning recreational fishing is an access right to go fishing in the sea for personal use. Recreational interests are recognised in the Fisheries Act, which establishes an allowance for recreational take within the TAC, and provides for consultation with recreational interests before setting or varying a TAC or TACC.
The public access right is subject to restrictions under the recreational fishing regulations. At an individual level recreational fishing is managed through daily bag limits and a range of method restrictions, size limits, and seasonal closures. Recreational catch cannot be sold. There are no reporting requirements for recreational catch.
A large number of charter fishing vessels operate in areas such as Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds. These are included in the recreational fishing category because they do not sell their fish, but rather provide transportation services.
The QMS is the primary commercial fisheries management tool to provide for utilisation of fisheries resources while ensuring sustainability. Under the QMS a TACC is set for a fishstock within a Quota Management Area (Figure 2 shows the Quota Management Areas). Individual transferable quota (ITQ) is fully transferable, subject to certain restrictions on aggregation and foreign ownership. ITQ gives rise to an annual catch entitlement (ACE) each year. All commercial fishing requires a permit. For species within the QMS, there is an obligation to cover all catch with ACE. Commercial fishing is subject to a wide range of input controls and reporting requirements.
Some species continue to be managed outside the QMS. These are still subject to catch regimes. There is a moratorium on the issue of new permits for non-QMS species to control effort prior to introducing these species into the QMS.
Catch Balancing Regime
The Fisheries Act 1996 establishes a new system, which came into force on 1 October 2001 by which a fisher's catch is counted against their catching rights-the catch balancing regime. The regime is designed to provide appropriate incentives to encourage fishers to cover all their catch of QMS fishstocks with Annual Catch Entitlement (ACE). Instead of it being a criminal offence to take catch in excess of quota-as it was under the 1983 Act-overfishing will be controlled, in the first instance, by graduated administrative incentives based around the payment of deemed values.
There are five main parts to the new catch balancing regime:
Interim deemed values are a 'reminder' to fishers to obtain ACE to cover catch during the fishing year;
Annual deemed values are the main incentive for fishers to cover all catch with ACE. For most stocks, the annual deemed value rate increases as the amount of catch in excess of a fisher's ACE increases;
Permit suspensions prohibit fishers from fishing if interim or annual deemed values are not paid.
Overfishing thresholds (specified as a percentage of ACE) will apply to a few fishstocks where overfishing raises particular concerns. A fisher's permit is deemed to contain a condition prohibiting the fisher continuing to fish in an area where the fisher's catch exceeds ACE by a specified amount.
Tolerance levels (specified as a fixed quantity of catch) are designed to prevent overfishing thresholds being triggered by trivial amounts of catch in excess of ACE.
Accurate and timely catch reporting is an important source of information on how the catch balancing regime is working in relation to individual fishstocks.
Figure 2. New Zealand Quota Management Areas
Marine farming is managed under the Fisheries Act 1983 and the Resource Management Act 1991. MFish may issue a marine farming permit as long as it does not have an undue adverse effect on fishing or the sustainability of any fisheries resource, and a coastal permit has been obtained under the Resource Management Act. A 2-year moratorium on marine farm applications has been in place since March 2002. Aquaculture reform legislation is currently being developed.
MFish has issued approximately 600 marine farm permits and licences for the Marlborough Sounds, 200 in the Firth of Thames and Coromandel and smaller number in other areas around New Zealand. These permits are predominantly for farming green-lipped mussels. In addition, MFish has authorised 175 oyster farm leases for 100 land-based farming operations. MFish is currently processing over 150 marine farm permit applications and expects to receive approximately another 80 to 100 applications over the next two years as the last of the resource consent applications that fall outside the moratorium are completed. Some of these are for very large areas.
A small number of marine farm applications have been declined or approved on a modified basis due to the impact that the proposed farm would have on fisheries habitat or fishing. There is concern about the cumulative effect of additional marine farms in areas where marine farming is already highly developed (such as the Marlborough Sounds) and their impact on carrying capacity (i.e. the depletion of nutrients in the environment attributable to the increase in marine farming).
Existing international obligations provide the framework for fisheries management in New Zealand. The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UN Convention) is the centrepiece of international law. It defines the extent of the territorial sea and the exclusive economic zone, and outlines the rights and duties of both the coastal state and other nations in relation to these areas. The 1982 UN Convention describes the rights and status of operations on the high seas. The 1995 United Nations Agreement on the Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement) came into force on 11 December 2001. It provides a framework for implementing articles of the 1982 UN Convention relating to straddling stocks and highly migratory stocks. The agreement sets out conservation and management objectives for these stocks and clarifies the rights and duties of coastal States in their EEZs and the rights and duties of other States fishing on the high seas. It affirms the role of regional fisheries management organisations as the means for co-operation to bring about conservation and management of these stocks
Almost all other international fisheries arrangements acknowledge and are subordinate to the 1982 UN Convention and the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement. Both provide a framework for regional fisheries arrangements. New Zealand is party to several such arrangements: Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources; the Arrangement Between the Government of New Zealand and the Government of Australia for the Conservation of Orange Roughy on the South Tasman Rise; and Commission for the Conservation of Southen Bluefin Tuna.
New Zealand fishers are involved in three distinct international fisheries; deep water and middle depth trawling; deepwater long lining; and tuna purse seining and long lining. These have been developed, initially at least, on the basis of the proximity of New Zealand to the resources concerned. New Zealand is close to the Ross Sea and sits on the doorstep to the largest tuna fishery in the world (Western and Central Pacific tuna fishery). New Zealand middle-depth and deepwater high seas fisheries development has also been based on the stocks found in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, as well as (closer to New Zealand) in the Challenger Plateau, Lord Howe Rise, Louisville Ridge and South Tasman Rise.
As a consequence of this evolving international legal architecture, we expect opportunities for access to high seas resources will largely disappear over the next 5 to 10 years. The 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement has strengthened regional fisheries management organisations and access to high seas resources will be subject to the measures they establish. In addition to the agreements mentioned above, already there are organisations covering the management of highly migratory stocks in the Atlantic Ocean, Eastern Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (yet to come into force). With regard to demersal species, organisations cover the Northwest Atlantic, Northeast Atlantic, and Southeast Atlantic (not yet in force) Oceans. Furthermore, negotiations are currently underway on agreements that would cover demersal species in the Indian Ocean and in the Tasman Sea.
New Zealand government's involvement in these arrangements is twofold-enhancing economic opportunities while ensuring sustainability. We have a responsibility to prevent Southern Hemisphere fisheries undergoing the intense exploitation that is occurring with many Northern Hemisphere fisheries. At the same time, New Zealand must secure its economic interests in the fisheries covered by such arrangements to safeguard the availability of current and future economic opportunities. New Zealand controls the high seas activities of our fishers using the Fisheries Act 1996. The Act sets out, among a range of things, a high seas fishing permit regime, a regime for the control of nationals, provisions that cover the discharge of monitoring and control requirements in the context of regional fisheries management organisations (e.g., boarding and inspection provisions), and a system of offences and penalties. High seas fishing permits are currently authorising the activities of 50 New Zealand flagged vessels.
The New Zealand fishing industry is heavily dependent on world markets for its financial viability. Improved access to overseas markets will therefore improve industry's economic performance. New Zealand stands to make significant gains from multilateral trade liberalisation negotiations taking place under the auspices of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). New Zealand is currently contributing to a study in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that will contribute to the WTO negotiations for the trade liberalisation for fish and fish products.
5.2 Marine biosecurity
MFish is the lead agency for marine biosecurity, answerable in this capacity to the Minister for Biosecurity. Responsibilities for biosecurity are actioned primarily through the powers of the Biosecurity Act 1993. MFish is one of four government agencies with biosecurity responsibilities, the others being MAF, DOC, and the Ministry of Health.
New Zealand's marine environment is unique, relatively pristine and vulnerable to invasion by exotic organisms. New Zealand has already received at least 148 accidentally introduced exotic marine species2. A wide range of organisms have arrived including algae, sponges, jellyfish and corals, worms, molluscs, crabs, and crustaceans.
Organisms arrive in and move around New Zealand by a variety of means:
fouling (or encrusting) on the bottoms of boats, on flotsam, on structures like oilrigs, or animals like turtles
water, usually ballast water
in equipment such as ropes, barges, and buoys
accidental introductions through aquarium trade, (Caulerpa taxifolia is one example) and deliberate introductions (possibly for food/harvest).
New organisms in the sea can compete with native species, upset ecosystem balance, and reduce biodiversity. They can also provide valuable harvest species (for example, Pacific Oyster). The effect of exotic species on New Zealand's environment and economy are, to date, poorly understood. However, overseas examples show that the impacts can be substantial.
In USA, the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha), which invaded the Great Lakes, has imposed huge costs on industry. The mussel forms dense mats, which clog industrial water intakes and discharge pipes. The projected cost for managing this pest in the next 10 years is US$ 5 billion.
The invasive comb jelly (Mnemiopsis leidyi) lead to the collapse of the pelagic fishery in the Black and Azov Seas. This had grave consequences for the economic and social conditions of the respective coastal countries. Catch in former USSR countries fell from 250 000 tonnes to 30 000 tonnes3 .
A closer example is the arrival in Tasmania of the Northern Pacific Seastar (Asterias amurensis). This starfish has a voracious appetite for bi-valves and continues to spread along the coast from the Derwent Estuary. New Zealand's marine farms would be vulnerable to the same species.
Algal blooms have caused the closure of some shellfish beds and been blamed for health problems in New Zealand. It is reasonable to suspect that they may have resulted from organisms brought to New Zealand in ballast water.
The goal of MFish in biosecurity is to minimise the risks to New Zealand's marine environment from biosecurity threats. To achieve this, MFish:
develops policy on marine biosecurity
develops and monitors strict compliance regimes for ballast water discharge;
is developing controls to prevent the introduction and spread of undesirable organisms on vessel hulls
promotes the adoption of international protocols to govern ballast water discharge
develops education material on all aspects of marine biosecurity
manages risks posed by pests, weeds and diseases
is undertaking baseline monitoring of major ports
manages a surveillance scheme for some species
is developing a wider surveillance network for new and undesirable marine organisms
manages any incursion response to exotic marine organisms
is developing incursion responses for types of marine organisms that may "invade" New Zealand waters.
MFish has no operational capability in marine biosecurity. Operational services are contracted from other agencies.
Maximum sustainable yield is defined as "the greatest yield that can be achieved over time while maintaining the stock's productive capacity, having regard to the population dynamics of the stock and any environmental factors that influence the stock".
Cranfield et al. 1998 Adventive Marine Species in New Zealand.
GESAMP Report and Studies No. 58. Opportunistic settlers and the problem of the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi invasion in the Black Sea. 1997