The first State of Our Fisheries was published in the year that New Zealand’s Quota Management System turned 20.
The Quota Management System (QMS) was a response to the critical state our fisheries were in at the time. For years New Zealanders, like the rest of the world, had treated the seas as an inexhaustible source of food, from which we could take as much as we liked without concern.
We were wrong and for more than 20 years we have been rebuilding many of our fisheries stocks.
I would like to be able to say “and the rest is history”, but that would suggest that the QMS solved all the issues facing our fisheries. However it’s far more complex than that. There is still much to learn about our fisheries, particularly the environmental effects of fishing. There are stocks that are still under pressure, and some of these are the focus of shared interest from commercial, recreational and customary fishers.
The Ministry of Fisheries consults with stakeholders on our Statement of Intent, which outlines the focus of our work for the coming five years. But that’s not the limit of our consultation.
Over the past two years we’ve talked widely with New Zealanders. We’ve had input from the different sectors of the fishing community, as well as scientists, environmentalists, local government and other government agencies. Many of these discussions took place during the Shared Fisheries consultation of 2006, and also in our move to develop fisheries plans and standards. They have helped us to decide how to manage issues like protecting the seabed and how to reduce the effects of human activities on Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins.
Fisheries plans are one of the new tools that will bring together the wealth of informationwe have gained over the last two decades, and highlight where more is needed. Standards will also form an important part of our management, setting benchmarks in areas including harvest strategies, preventing seabird deaths and managing deemed values. The performance of fisheries will be assessed against these standards.
A core part of our work is ensuring we have information on which to base management decisions. This means continuing our ongoing programme of research into fish stocks, the wider issue of biodiversity and the impact of global events such as climate change.
On an international level we continue to advocate for sustainability Our practices at home and anywhere New Zealanders do business should pass this test. Particularly as we encourage others to take a precautionary approach when it comes to fishing.
The cover of this edition of the State of Our Fisheries captures just why it is that the people of New Zealand feel so strongly about our marine environment and the animals that live within it. A number of the images throughout the book were taken by New Zealanders as part of a photography competition held by the Ministry this year They show the aroha we feel for this wonderful resource and the mana it brings to us nationally and internationally. They remind us that we must all be its guardians.
Ministry of Fisheries
"On an international level
we continue to advocate