Managing Fisheries for the Future
When the Quota Management System was implemented in 1986, New Zealand’s fisheries faced tough times.
The view that fish were an unlimited resource was coming into question and it was a case of too many boats chasing too few fish.
Species like snapper, scallops and rock lobster were being over-fished.
These stocks aren’t just sought after by commercial fishers – Māori value them for customary purposes and recreational fishers value them for food and for fun.
And while the introduction of the Quota Management System (QMS) helped to rebuild stocks, questions remain about how best to manage the stocks so that everyone can get the best value from them.
This issue has caused intense debate for many years, particularly in the snapper, blue cod, kingfish, kahawai and rock lobster fisheries.
So in 2006 the government began the Shared Fisheries consultation, looking for a way to address the interests of different fishing groups. Strong responses from around the country showed support for change in the way we manage these shared fisheries. Most people agreed that we need to know more about how many fish recreational fishers are catching, and that recreational fishers need better representation in the processes used to make decisions about fisheries management.
One expanding area of fishing is that done from recreational charter boats. Consultation is underway with operators of these vessels about activity and catch reporting – how often they go out, where they go, what they catch and how much fish is taken. The information gained from reporting like this would show patterns of fishing activity in this expanding sector. It would also allow for more data to be collected about the particular species that are being caught by fishers on recreational charter boats.
A fisheries sector working group has been set up so that stakeholders can work together on shared fisheries issues. Te Ohu Kaimoana, the Seafood Industry Council, the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council, the New Zealand Big Game Fishing Council and option4 (a group that represents some recreational fishers) make up the group. They will report their findings to the Minister of Fisheries, who intends to make recommendations in 2008 for advancing Shared Fisheries policy.
Before any decisions are made, further consultation will take place with Māori and stakeholders.