1.2 Ministry of Fisheries
Mfish is the principal adviser to the Minister of Fisheries. We are also the principal adviser to the Minister for Biosecurity, in relation to marine biosecurity. Our core roles are:
advising the government on the policy and legal frameworks for the efficient and sustainable use of fisheries, the protection of the aquatic environment and the management of marine biosecurity risks
maintaining relationships with tangata whenua and ensuring services are delivered that support the Crown's obligations to Maori in respect of fisheries
ensuring delivery of services that support the effective operation and integrity of the policy and legal frameworks.
Mfish was established on 1 July 1995 and at 31 January 2004 employed 353 permanent staff.
Its output class budgets for 2003-04 in the approved Statement of Intent total $74.084 million, excluding GST. This comprises $71.135 million in Vote Fisheries and $2.949 million in Vote Biosecurity (Fisheries). Cost recovery levies and transaction charges for Vote Fisheries applied to the commercial fisheries sector amount to $33.800 million or 47.5% of Vote: Fisheries ($32.067 million of this amount is recovered from cost recovery levies).
The Mfish budget for 2003/04 is split between output classes as follows:
The capability of Mfish has been stretched in recent times. This is in terms of the sheer workload and the limited resources available to us. Our strategic thrust towards a greater environmental focus and creating greater opportunities for tangata whenua and stakeholder involvement have contributed to this and will continue to do so particularly in the science, policy, and fisheries management areas of our work. We also face capacity issues in the specialised enforcement areas. Benchmarked against other OECD countries, New Zealand has a relatively low level of government investment in fisheries management.
Mfish stakeholders include customary, recreational, commercial, and environmental interests. The main organisations representing these interests are iwi, New Zealand Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC), Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission, New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council, Worldwide Fund for Nature, environment and conservation organisations, and the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society.
The main service provider organisations are FishServe for registry services and NIWA for research services.
In addition to its fisheries management responsibilities, Mfish is responsible to the Minister for Biosecurity for the provision of a range of marine biosecurity services. These services include developing a risk management strategy for marine biosecurity, monitoring ballast water discharge, incursion response plans, baseline surveys of ports, and vector monitoring for Undaria. Mfish responsibilities for biosecurity are actioned primarily through the powers of the Biosecurity Act 1993. Mfish has no operational capability in marine biosecurity. Operational services are contracted from other agencies.
New Zealand's marine environment is unique, relatively pristine, and vulnerable to invasion by exotic organisms. New organisms in the sea can compete with native species, upset ecosystem balance, and reduce biodiversity. They can also provide valuable harvest species, such as Pacific oysters. The effects of exotic marine species on New Zealand's environment and economy are, to date, poorly understood. However, overseas examples show that the impacts can be substantial.
While not a major part of our operations, the biosecurity role of Mfish has expanded significantly in recent years. Along with other agencies with biosecurity responsibilities, Mfish is implementing the New Zealand Biosecurity Strategy. Implementation of the New Zealand Biosecurity Strategy is likely to result in structural changes to the way marine biosecurity services are delivered. The Chief Executive of Mfish is a member of the Biosecurity Chief Executive's Forum, which is tasked with decisions on the future delivery of biosecurity services.