The marine environment features high in New Zealander's minds. Our waters support many valuable fisheries and are home to many special creatures.
However, getting the most from our marine resources requires an ongoing balancing act.
We must balance what we take now against what we leave for the future. We must balance the economic benefits of catching fish against any environmental damage this may cause. We must also balance how catches are shared between our commercial and non-commercial fishing sectors.
The State of Our Fisheries reports on the management of New Zealand's fisheries now, and into the future.
To date, our fisheries management has largely focused on commercial species, and making sure sustainable catch limits have been set. The Quota Management System has solved one issue that many other nations still struggle with - the problem of too many boats and fishermen for the resource to cope with. But we can do better.
Concerns over the environmental effects of fishing have increased in recent years. And as a result, the government has developed more structured approaches to balancing protection and use of our marine resources. These involve everyone in the process - the fishing industry, environmental groups, tangata whenua, marine scientists, communities, and the wider public.
Involving people is important, because much of what we must do relates to people's values, behaviours and expectations.
Species like snapper, kahawai, paua, pipi and rock lobster are hugely valuable to customary fishers, and are part of our recreational fishing heritage. Many of these also bring valuable export returns to our commercial sector.
How do we share such resources so that we all get the best value from them? Again, we must involve everyone in the process.
As the collective owners of our marine resources, I urge all New Zealanders to become more involved in their management. Take up the opportunities for input and submission into government processes this year. And together we can shape what gets passed on to the next generation.
Hon. Jim Anderton
Minister of Fisheries
Together we can shape what gets passed on to the next generation.