REGULATORY IMPACT STATEMENT
Introduction of a Netting Catch Effort Landing Return (NCELR)
Statement of the nature and magnitude of the problem and the need for Government action
The current use of Catch Effort and Landing Returns (CELRs) to record passive net fishing (set netting, inshore drift netting and pair set netting) activities is insufficient to ensure that informed and sustainable management can occur in these fisheries. Since 1989, CELRs have been the principal means of collecting data concerned with passive net fishing. The forms are problematic both in terms of the lack of data supplied and in their reliance on the use of templates. The CELR collects very limited data for each day of fishing and does not collect data for each unit of fishing effort (e.g. each set of a net) or the latitude and longitude of the fisher, thereby failing to meet the specific data needs of each fishery. The loss of templates or incorrect placement of templates on the CELR also makes the collection of useful data increasingly difficult. Additionally, fishers are often unsure how to complete the forms to conform to MFish’s requirements. This results in inconsistencies, which further undermine the value of the information that is obtained.
Inshore passive net fishing is a multi-species fishery. Currently the CELR requires only the weights of the top five estimated catches of fish to be recorded each day. There is a significant lack of information for a number of species as a result. This affects the ability of the Ministry to make accurate stock assessments for a number of inshore species. Stock assessments are the primary tool for assessing the sustainability of the current catch limits for species. Additionally, fine scale data (the reporting of latitude and longitude rather than statistical areas) is necessary in the inshore fisheries to assist with managing the impacts on fishing on the environment as well as to provide information that can be used in other marine resource management issues. For example managing possible interactions between fishers and hectors/maui dolphins and the assessment of marine farms/marine reserves applications will benefit from having better information about the location of passive net fishing activities.
These issues need to be resolved if passive netting fisheries are to be successfully managed in future. Higher quality policy, science, fisheries operations, research and compliance information is necessary to ensure that sustainable management can occur.
Statement of the public policy objective
To collect high quality information that provides a sound statistical basis for sustainable management of passive net fisheries.
Statement of feasible options (regulatory and/or non-regulatory) that may constitute viable means for achieving the desired objective and net benefit of the proposal
All commercial fishers are required to provide information about their fishing activities in the format specified in the Fisheries (Reporting) Regulations 2001 (The Reporting Regulations). Commercial fishers in the passive net fishery use the CELR. The CELR is the generic catch effort reporting form which collects the minimum amount of catch and effort information for the Ministry’s purposes, including catch landing data, method type, stat area, date and time, vessel used, etc. The form is currently used in conjunction with cardboard templates that are overlain to differentiate between fishing methods. However, in the case of the passive net fishery this information is no longer sufficient for the Ministry’s purposes. Maintaining the status quo would result in a continuation of the problems discussed above.
Preferred Option – amend the Fisheries (Reporting) Regulations 2001
MFish proposes that the Reporting Regulations be amended to introduce a new Netting Catch, Effort and Landing Return (NCELR) to replace the CELR for reporting passive net fishing. The new NCELR will collect data from vessels 6m and over in overall length, about fishing using the methods that constitute passive net fishing. Data will be expanded to include more detailed information about each unit of fishing effort, latitude and longitude and species caught. As a result the form is in A3 format to accommodate the more detailed information. Fishers using vessels less than 6m in overall length will continue to report set netting, inshore drift netting or pair set netting on the CELR at this stage. The arbitrary length is in recognition that the Maritime New Zealand requires vessels over 6.1m to hold vessel documentation and additional safety equipment. Those who routinely use multiple fishing methods in a single fishing trip (passive netting plus one or more other methods) will be eligible to apply for an exemption under regulation 41 of the Reporting Regulations to allow them to continue to report fishing information on the existing CELR.
Statement of the net benefits of the proposals, including total regulatory costs (administrative, compliance and economic costs) and benefits (including non-quantifiable benefits) of the proposals and other feasible options
A new NCELR will ensure that good quality information is available to manage passive netting fisheries successfully. The new form will capture information from 50% of passive netting vessels and about 90% of the catch. This will represent a significant and crucial improvement in the data available for these methods.
MFish estimates that the costs to implement a new NCELR (including developing the printing template, printing new books of returns and doing a mail out to all affected fishers) will total approximately $7,500. The cost of printing new books will be more expensive than usual due to the larger size of the new NCELR. However, these costs will be offset by the fact that fewer of the current CELR books will be printed. Additionally, as the NCELR has more space for reporting, fishers may be less likely to use multiple pages for a trip, so books may last longer.
Ongoing operational costs resulting from the introduction of the NCELR have not yet been assessed. However, these costs are likely to be offset by a reduction in the numbers of CELRs requiring processing.
Resources will also be needed to make the required changes to the MFish catch effort computer system and to write explanatory notes to accompany the form. There are also resource implications associated with raising fisher awareness of the new reporting requirements. All costs will be covered from within existing baselines.
MFish believes that additional costs to commercial fishers are unlikely to be high. Currently, there are approximately 400 vessels using passive net methods. Almost 50% are over 6m in length. Those vessels over 6m in length catch over 90% of the reported catch. Although a new form will be used, it should be noted that the requirement for fishers to report their fishing activity already exists. The introduction of the NCELR is likely to result in an increase in the reporting obligations of passive net fishers due to the requirement for more detailed information about these fisheries. This increase will be offset by the improved design of the form, making it simpler and more intuitive for fishers to complete. It is hoped that this will lead to fewer errors, which will reduce the amount of time and effort needed to ensure that good quality information is available. The compliance costs arising out of this proposal are discussed further in the BCCS.
Introduction of the NCELR form will have noticeable environmental benefits to passive net fisheries. An increase in the availability and quality of data will ensure that MFish will be better informed and the achievement of sustainable management more achievable in future.
Statement of consultation undertaken
Detailed Initial Position Papers were developed for the proposal and sent out, seeking submissions, to members of the fishing industry, local iwi and the recreational sector who would be directly affected. There were no significant concerns raised by the consultation.
Departmental consultation was also undertaken with Ministry for the Environment, Department of Conservation, the Treasury, Ministry of Justice and Te Puni Kokiri. No significant concerns were raised.
BUSINESS COMPLIANCE COST STATEMENT
All commercial fishers who undertake passive net fishing using a vessel over 6m in length will likely be affected by these proposals. Currently this represents approximately 200 vessels.
Compliance costs likely to arise include:
- The time taken to populate the 5 additional fields on the form, which may take an extra few minutes.
- Level of reporting is increased from once a day to each individual set event. A individual set is defined as all nets fishing at the same time within 2 nautical miles of the first set that was set. In reality however, most fishers are likely to only undertake one set event per day and MFish does not envisage much additional reporting resulting from this requirement.
- Any associated difficulties with a A3 form (instead of the usual A4), particularly issues with space required to store and fill in the form.. It is also possible that forms can be sent back for correction via facsimile. A very small percentage of fishers use this means of communication. Fishers may either not be able to use facsimile or be required to amend two pages if the form can be split in half.
- A minority of fishers may have to use charts or purchase a GPS (Global Positioning System) in order to be able to comply with the requirement to record latitude and longitude. Hand held GPS units are readily available from $250 although MFish understands that most vessels over 6m in length are likely to already have a GPS unit.
The form was tested with fishers and was found to be easier to fill in than the CELR therefore mitigating the extra time involved in filling out extra fields.
A robust process is undertaken, involving a working group with scientists and the fishing industry. This process ensures that only necessary information is collected, and that the form design provides for ease of use. Testing is then undertaken with affected fishers.
The Ministry will advise vessel operators when the regulations come into force, and what the regulations entail to minimise implementation costs.