Sharing our fisheries
Deciding how to share New Zealand's fisheries between the commercial and non-commercial sectors is something the government is grappling with, as it tries to ensure New Zealand gets the most value out of its fisheries.
But where does that best value lie - with the non-commercial fisher or the commercial sector? The issue causes fierce debate, particularly in our snapper, blue cod, kingfish, kahawai, and rock lobster fisheries. These species are especially valued by recreational fishers.
The commercial sector sells fish to make money. Here, the value of fish is easily measured in export dollars and domestic sales.
However, non-commercial fishers value fisheries for a wider range of reasons. These include putting food on the table, the fun of fishing, and enjoying the outdoors. So measuring the value of fish to this sector is not so easy.
We know that both the commercial and non-commercial sectors contribute to the New Zealand economy.
Commercial fishing creates jobs in catching, fish processing and marketing, as well as in marine engineering and fishing equipment industries.
We also know that many weekend and holiday communities in coastal areas depend on "good fishing" to draw visitors. These visitors create jobs in the retail, service, and entertainment industries. Added to this are the jobs created from more general spending on fishing and diving gear, bait, boats, and fuel.
In shared fisheries, we need to know how much fish each sector is taking. While we have a good record of commercial catch, we know less about what recreational and customary fishers take each year.
This information is very important when we make decisions about how to share our fisheries.
The Ministry of Fisheries has commissioned a series of surveys that will tell us more about recreational fish catches in popular fishing areas - Northland, Hauraki Gulf, Bay of Plenty, and Tasman/Marlborough.
This will help us to manage shared fisheries in these areas.