Improved stakeholder relationships and participation
A large part of the fisheries management process involves influencing the behaviour of stakeholders in ways that can realise the full potential of fisheries resources. The purpose of fisheries management therefore is to establish incentives for fishers that will operate to co-ordinate or guide their activities in ways that will achieve desirable long-term results. Where these incentives operate against the immediate interest of fishers it is important that they have enough confidence in the integrity of the decision process to accept that such constraints are appropriate to ensure overall management objectives are achieved.
An important contributor to credibility is effective engagement with tangata whenua, stakeholders, other government organisations, and the public in management of fisheries. It is the Ministry's view that stakeholders do have an important role to play in many areas of management such as providing input to decision-making frameworks and setting standards. There are a number of reasons for this. Stakeholder involvement in fisheries management decision-making processes increases the chance that the decision-maker has access to all relevant information. It is also assumed that stakeholders will be more likely to accept decisions that involve risk to them (risk that they may be disadvantaged in relation to others) if they are involved in the decision-making process. Involvement also increases the incentive to support decisions. This results in improved, and therefore less costly, compliance. Perhaps most importantly, stakeholder involvement in fisheries management increases their understanding of the process and increases their willingness to commit to actions and strategies that will deliver long-term benefits. The involvement that stakeholders have in the Ministry's stock assessment (January-May) and research planning (July- December) programme provides a good example of this.
The Ministry has taken steps to improve stakeholder relationships and participation. In order to increase engagement with tangata whenua it is establishing and supporting regional forums of iwi and hapu to provide for more effective input and participation into Ministry processes. The Ministry is also supporting the work of Pou Hononga (relationship management facilitators) and is expanding its involvement in capacity building, and iwi and hapu relationship facilitation.
Steps have also been taken to improve engagement with other stakeholder groups. These include:
- establishing and supporting a National Recreational Fisheries Ministerial Advisory Committee and regional forums to engage with recreational fishers
- meeting regularly with environmental Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
- meeting regularly with the NZ Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC) and Te Ohu Kai Moana Trustee Limited (TOKMTL) at a policy level
- supporting the formation of representative stakeholder groups and their capacity to engage effectively in fisheries management.
The Ministry will also continue to improve multi-sector engagement by:
- moving to rationalise existing regional stakeholder forums (e.g. Fisheries Liaison Committees)
- developing a strategy to improve ongoing relationships with fisheries stakeholders, including consultation
- enhancing the involvement of fisheries stakeholders and tangata whenua in processes to develop or review fisheries policies, management plans, and associated legal and compliance regimes
- enhancing the involvement of fisheries stakeholders in the identification and resolution of compliance problems.