4. Operating intentions
The health of the aquatic environment
What are we seeking to achieve?
This outcome covers the Fisheries Act 1996 obligations to ensure
sustainability (including maintaining stock levels and managing the
adverse effects of fishing on the aquatic environment), promoting
sustainable fishing in international fisheries, and working with other
agencies to address impacts on the environment and fisheries
resources not caused by fishing.
What will we do to achieve this?
Provide frameworks and incentives to improve environmental
performance of fisheries
This role includes improving legislative and policy frameworks,
such the Fisheries Act, and developing new management tools
to improve environmental performance. Where practical, we aim
to give stakeholders incentives to develop innovative ways to
meet the required fisheries environmental standards. Fisheries
plans allow tangata whenua and stakeholders to do this. Cost
recovery provides incentives for commercial fishers to change
fishing practices which have adverse effects on the environment.
Beyond the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the Ministry promotes
policy and governance arrangements to ensure sustainable
management of high-seas fisheries and works with international
fora to eliminate subsidies that lead to over-capacity.
Set standards for environmental performance of fishing
Fishing can adversely affect the aquatic environment, such as
by incidental capture of seabirds or mammals or disturbance
of seabed communities. Effective management requires
environmental fisheries standards to be set and achieved.
Standards should help achieve this outcome by defining the
acceptable level of risk to the aquatic environment from fishing
impacts, and the acceptable level of impacts of fishing on stocks.
In setting standards, we need to consider biological limits,
uncertainty in information, society's views on current use
(including tangata whenua and stakeholder views) and the
needs of future generations. Standards will be consistent with
legislation and will be enhanced over time. Standards will
be implemented consistent with the precautionary approach.
Monitoring and review of performance against standards is also
needed so that changes can be made if new information comes
to light or if the standard is not having the expected result.
Ensure environmental rules are met
Rules are intended to influence fisher behaviour so standards
and higher level outcomes can be achieved. Most rules for fisher
behaviour are in the form of regulation. An effective compliance
regime achieves a desirable level of compliance; an efficient one
achieves that goal at least cost using a combination of incentives
and penalties. Since self-control is the cheapest form of
enforcement, any compliance regime should aim to obtain the
desirable level through voluntary compliance, wherever practical.
Education and information may encourage fishers to keep within
limits, but penalties (usually fines imposed by the Courts) will
always be needed to ensure some standards are met.
Contribute to processes that reduce impacts not caused by
The Ministry works with other agencies - mainly Department of
Conservation, Ministry for the Environment, and regional councils
- to ensure that action is taken to reduce adverse impacts on
the environment that are not caused by fishing, and to reform
policy and legal frameworks with the aim of improving the
management of such impacts. Sedimentation and pollution
can have a direct and detrimental effect on the productivity of
fisheries. In addition, there are factors other than fishing that
contribute to adverse outcomes, such as declining populations
of protected species. We work to ensure that fishing is not
severely restricted without also attempting to control other
activities that contribute to these adverse outcomes.
Information on fisheries resources may also be useful in setting
measures to manage non-fishing activities, both domestically
How will we demonstrate success?
The primary performance measures for this outcome are:
- The percentage of stocks in the quota management system
that are at or above target level is increasing.
- Fishing-related mortality of protected species - including
sealions, fur seals, seabirds, and dolphins - is declining or
below agreed limits.
- A representative range of New Zealand's marine habitats and
ecosystems is protected from impacts of fishing by 2020.
- All fisheries plans describe how relevant environmental
standards will be met and include monitoring programmes to
- Conservation and management measures, consistent with any
fisheries sustainability standards set by the International
Standards Organisation (or, in their absence, consistent with
any relevant standards adopted in New Zealand), are adopted
within five years (by 2013) by all Regional Fisheries
Management Organisations (RFMOs) in which New Zealand
is an active participant.