Fishing industry and aquaculture development
The New Zealand fishing industry is a major export earner for the New Zealand economy. In 2004, just under 340,000tonnes of seafood products left the country, worth a total $NZ 1.3 billion to the New Zealand economy. This makes the fishing industry New Zealand's fifth largest export earner behind dairy, meat, horticulture, and forestry. Export earnings provide the New Zealand fishing industry with approximately 90% of its total revenue.
The industry is currently experiencing hard times as it continues to operate in an increasingly difficult economic environment. Key economic and environmental factors affecting the New Zealand industry have been the high value of the New Zealand dollar, record fuel prices, and major reductions in the hoki catch limits. The combination of these, and other, factors have put financial pressure on the New Zealand fishing industry. This has led to some business contraction, including some fishing vessels being tied up or sold, and consequent job losses.
The aquaculture component of the fishing industry is also facing financial pressure due to the high New Zealand dollar. However, there are some more positive signs for the aquaculture sector. The aquaculture industry was subject to a moratorium on applications for new marine farming from November 2001 until the end of 2004. The moratorium was put in place to allow for the aquaculture reforms to be progressed and to allow councils and the Ministry to try and deal with the backlog of existing marine farm applications. New aquaculture legislation is now in place, the moratorium has been lifted, and the aquaculture industry faces a much more certain future. The remaining task is for local government, central government, and industry to work together to ensure that regions adequately plan for aquaculture development in the future.
The Ministry is working in a number of different areas to assist the fishing industry, both aquaculture and wild harvest fisheries, to maximise their potential for growth. These include:
- The Food and Beverage Taskforce - The Taskforce comprises leaders from the food and beverage sector and senior government representatives. The Taskforce has been established to assess priorities for development and work out where government can help clear away unnecessary barriers to growth. The intent is also for the Taskforce to forge partnerships within the Food and Beverage sector itself, as well as between industry and government.
- Seafood Workforce Strategy - This initiative is being led by the Department of Labour. A working group has been established that includes senior government and industry representatives to consider a long-term strategy to deal with skill and labour issues in the seafood industry.
- Fisheries Plans - The Ministry is planning to use fisheries plans as a key fisheries management tool in the short to medium term. Fisheries plans are seen as an important mechanism to better target and coordinate management measures on a fishery-specific basis, and to improve stakeholder involvement in - and commitment to - fisheries management in New Zealand. Fisheries plans will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to maximise value from the fishery, including the potential for cost reduction in management.
- Aquaculture Reforms Implementation Project - This joint project, initiated by central government, is designed to assist local authorities to take up their planning and management role for aquaculture. The project team includes central government agencies (key agencies are Environment (lead), Fisheries, and Conservation), local government representatives and industry representation. Industry involvement in the project ensures a clearer focus on implementation issues that are of importance to the industry itself as well as providing for timely exchange of information between government and industry on both government initiatives and industry developments in aquaculture.
- Aquaculture Sector Strategy and Action Agenda - This is an industry-led initiative that is being supported by central government. The Ministry of Fisheries hosted an aquaculture forum in Wellington in April 2005 to support the development of an aquaculture sector strategy. The aquaculture industry has been successful in obtaining funding through the Ministry of Economic Development to support the development of this strategy. The Ministry of Fisheries will be continuing to support this initiative as appropriate through 05/06.