1.3 Recent changes
The last three years have seen substantial changes in both the sector and in Mfish. The 2003"2008 Strategic Plan sets out the manner in which Mfish intends to give effect to the Fisheries Act 1996. It signals an increased focus on meeting environmental obligations, allowing stakeholders to maximise the value they obtain from using fisheries, delivery of Deed of Settlement obligations and stakeholder participation. The Mfish draft Statement of Intent for 2004-2008 sets out in more detail specific mechanisms by which these will be achieved.
Focus on environmental issues
The purpose of the Fisheries Act 1996 is to provide for the utilisation of fisheries resources while ensuring sustainability. The Act increases the environmental focus of the legal framework, notably by introducing environmental and information principles, which require decisions to be based on the best available information and to take account of the wider ecosystem in which fisheries exist. While the setting of sustainable catch limits, based on scientific research, continues to underpin sustainable stock management, we have increasingly expanded our efforts to deliver ecosystem-based management. Recent initiatives
include increased research on the environmental effects of fishing, development of a National Plan of Action to reduce seabird mortality, regulatory measures to address fishing mortality of Hector's dolphins, closure of 19 seamounts to trawling, and collaborative work with the Department of Conservation to improve the process for establishing marine reserves and other marine protected areas. The Strategy for Managing the Environmental Effects of Fishing, currently under development, recognises these initiatives, but looks for further improvement in a coordinated and proactive strategy to meet all environmental obligations in an efficient and consistent manner. The draft Strategy proposes the setting of environmental standards against which proposed stock strategies and fisheries plans will be assessed. Stock strategies and fisheries plans are the two principal mechanisms to deliver fisheries management outcomes.
Mfish is also undertaking a review of its strategy to deliver on its obligations to Māori arising from the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992 and the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. The final strategy will address strategic and operational aspects of our obligations and implement mechanisms to achieve an improved working relationship with Māori. The strategy will complement the implementation of customary regulations and other provisions to recognise the role of Māori in fisheries management.
Participation will also be enhanced through stock strategies developed by Mfish, fisheries plans developed by stakeholders, and improvements to the Mfish Statement of Intent process. Consultations on the annual Statement of Intent have been extended to provide improved opportunities for discussion and review as a result of stakeholder participation.
New Fisheries Management Approach
Mfish's draft Statement of Intent (SOI) for 2004-2008 signals a new approach to the management of fisheries. Key elements underpinning the new approach are:
- The purpose and principles of the Fisheries Act 1996
- Government policy statements
- Mfish goals and strategies
- fisheries standards
provision for alternative fisheries management frameworks to achieve outcomes and manage risks
prioritisation of limited government resources on the basis of achieving outcomes and managing risks.
integration of services through transparent planning and prioritisation frameworks.
The new approach requires Mfish to develop stock strategies covering all fish species and, if requested by stakeholders, to assist them in the development of a government approved fisheries plans.
Four components will be necessary to support the approach:
standards by which the performance of the stock strategy or fisheries plan can be judged
rights allocated for the use of the fisheries resources
processes to enable stakeholder participation in management, whether through stock strategies or fisheries plans
improved specification of the activities and services necessary to support fisheries management outcomes.
Standards, approved by government, are the means by which Mfish will implement the obligations of the Fisheries Act. These will include performance and process standards.
Performance standards relate to the sustainability of fisheries resources and the aquatic environment, and the use of the fisheries resources. In this context, standards are a mechanism for establishing and implementing limits and targets. Process standards are about how management is undertaken and relate to input and participation, consultation and monitoring requirements.
The standards framework will be "enabling" in nature rather than documenting prescriptive requirements. Stock strategies or fisheries plans will be the preferred method for the delivery of standards. Crown delivery of those standards will predominantly be in the form of a stock strategy. Stakeholders may also deliver those standards via a fisheries plan. The performance standards will be the same for both delivery tools. Process standards may vary.
The performance and process standards will meet the Crown's obligation to Māori.
Mfish has defined a stock strategy as a document that sets out the Crown's proposed management objectives for a fishery, the services required and standards and rules necessary to achieve those objectives. Stock strategies will be developed within or across fisheries.
They will encompass objectives for providing for use and ensuring sustainability, including ensuring environmental issues are addressed. Mfish intends that, in 2004-05, stock strategies will be implemented for deepwater stocks and the development started for inshore and pelagic stocks.
While stakeholders can develop a fisheries plan independent of the Mfish stock strategy, the latter will provide a useful starting point for stakeholders to develop fisheries plans. A fisheries plan is a record of what a stakeholder group wants to achieve in a fishery and how the group will go about achieving it. A fisheries plan will contribute to fisheries outcomes beyond what Mfish proposes to achieve through a stock strategy. Incentives and opportunities will need to be provided to enable stakeholders to optimise preferred outcomes under a fisheries plan. Where rights are well defined and allocated, the development of a fisheries plan is how value in fisheries can be best maximised.
A core role of government is to define the means by which stakeholders can use fisheries resources. The allocation of rights to stakeholders is an important element in enabling people to provide for their own well being through the use of fisheries resources. The allocation of rights creates the tools and a positive incentive for people to be responsible for maximising value and ensuring sustainability. For example, the introduction of species into the quota management system and allocation of catch among sectors creates a shared interest in the management of fisheries.
Stakeholders can participate in managing the fishery through the development of standards, stock strategies and/or fisheries plans. In addition, Mfish will improve opportunities for Māori to contribute to and participate in fisheries management, consistent with the Deed of Settlement.
The development of stock strategies and fisheries plans will change the way the fisheries are managed in New Zealand and, therefore, how Mfish will operate to fulfil its role. This new approach, which will better reflect the core role of government, will be implemented in an incremental fashion and centres on how Government and stakeholders will meet fisheries management objectives.
We have identified a Fisheries Intervention Plan as the mechanism for establishing the services that Government contributes to fisheries management. The Fisheries Intervention Plan will be the foundation for development of Mfish planning and reallocation of resources. It is the function of a stock strategy to determine measures and resources required to achieve a stated objective and to determine the relative risk of particular approaches. The Fisheries Intervention Plan will assess priorities across the stock strategies and fisheries plans and determine the services that are actioned. A period of transition will be required as stock strategies and fisheries plans are developed and implemented.
Moving towards this new approach to fisheries management will involve a number of internal changes within the Ministry of Fisheries. This includes better integration of our services, a realignment of our existing processes, the development of new skills, and consideration of new executive governance arrangements. These necessary changes will be implemented during the next two to three years as resources and "business as usual" permit.