Fisheries Infosite

History of Fishing in New Zealand

DateKey eventsEvolution of New Zealand Fishing and Fisheries Management 
1983Deepwater quota and regional fisheries management

The Fisheries Act 1983 introduces significant changes to the fisheries management system and statutory framework. Individual transferable quota (ITQ) is allocated to participants in the seven main deepwater fisheries. A regional fisheries management framework (based on 10 fisheries management areas or FMAs) is outlined, aimed at conserving fish stocks, promoting commercial and recreational fishing, limiting access to fisheries, reducing catching effort and providing optimum yields. The Act also provides for long term planning through Fisheries Management Plans (FMPs) for each FMA, which would be designed by MAF and the local seafood industry, with the intent of providing a more democratic approach to fisheries management. A new permit scheme and definition of a commercial fisher leads to a dramatic reduction in the numbers of part time fishers, many of whom are Māori, and halving the number of permit holders to around 2260. Government buy-back of vessels is seen as a temporary measure to reduce capacity.

1983Deepwater trawl allocation 130,100 tonnes

The deepwater trawl cake is cut in two ways : by species and company. The total quota allocated is 130,100 tonnes, split hoki 40,400, orange roughy 32,700, oreo dories 20,600, trawl squid 20,000, ling 8,000, silver warehou 6,000 and hake 2,400 tonnes. By company the division is Fletcher 23.3%, Sealord 20.4%, Sanford 20.4%, Skeggs 9%, Amaltal 9%, Wanganui Trawlers 4%, Wattie Fishing 4%, South Island Deep Sea Fishing Co. 4%, Southland Fish Processors Co-operative 1.7% and 5.5% held for competitive fishing. No company can own more than 35% of any individual species.  A minimum 35% of catches has to be processed beyond the headed and gutted stage on shore, as a way of encouraging added value. Vessels larger than 40 metres are excluded from the 12 mile line. Area B and other areas are closed to foreign vessels.

1983Stock assessment and resource continuityNAFMAC (the National Fisheries Management Advisory Committee) releases its Future Policy for the Inshore Fishery, which proposes assessment of existing fish stocks, the proportion that might be taken each year to ensure continuity of the resource and some statement on economic viable yields. It also advocates reducing catching effort and six different long term policies – reliance on attrition, competitive fishing up to TAC levels, effort controls on gear, methods, seasons or species, fisheries management plans, controlled fisheries, and ITQs. 
1983First salmon exportsBP New Zealand sends the first export shipment of farmed salmon to the USA. 
1986Quota Management System (QMS) commences

The Fisheries Amendment Act 1986 gives effect to the ITQ system and improves efficiencies in harvesting. Its main provisions are to maintain fisheries at sustainable levels by way of TACs and TACCs, implementing ITQ to provide economic incentives and enable rational industry restructuring, allocate ITQs, enable quota to be tradable and leasable, track catch against quota via an efficient government monitoring system, allow quota owners to catch their entitlement and avoid the “race for fish”.

1986ITQ species and inshore quota

32 species are initially included in the QMS, which account for approximately 85% of the commercial catch (by 2008, 97 species make up the QMS). Each stock is defined by a Quota Management Area, whilst the management of non ITQ species remains according to FMAs. Quota for inshore fisheries is set based on qualifying permit holders’ catch history of the best two of three fishing years between 1981/2 and 1983/4, and TACs are set conservatively between 25% and 75% lower than 1983 catch levels. 

1986Deepwater quota and aggregation limits

Deepwater quota allocated in 1982 is transferred to ITQs following sustainability concerns within the industry. Aggregation limits are set at 20% to avoid monopolistic power of individual firms. In 1986 TACCs total 520,901 tonnes of which 60.8% goes to 1,472 permit holders (including 255,241 tonnes to the top 12 companies). The government retains the remaining 39.2%.

1986Deemed values

Deemed values are introduced to remove the economic incentive for fishers to land species for which they do not own ITQ. Deemed values normally relate to bycatch, rather than targeted species being caught. The deemed value is intended to be sufficiently low to discourage catching of non-ITQ species, yet sufficiently high to ensure bycatch would be landed and utilised, rather than dumped at sea. Where fishers cannot catch their entire quota in one year, up to 10% can be carried forward to the next fishing year.

1986Administration, ITQ buy-back and enforcement

An ITQ buy-back scheme to reduce TACCs in depleted fisheries and to compensate those who exited the fishery is set up, as is a new cross-referencing administration system. New reporting documents include Catch Effort Landing Returns (CELR), the Quota Management Report (QMR), and Licensed Fish Receiver Return (LFR). Enforcement evolves to include tracking of mis-reporting through these paper trails. Penalties for non-compliance include forfeiture of ITQ, vessels, fish, equipment, and fines up to NZ$250,000.

1986Exports top $657mDuring the period between 1983 and 1986, exports grow from $309m to $657m. Half of this goes to Japan, with Australia and the USA accounting for a quarter together. Export tonnage over the same period increases from 130,000 tonnes to 158,000. One quarter of the value comes from orange roughy. By 2007 exports have grown to $1.4bn. 
1986Mussel exports top $11m

In 1986 mussel exports reach $11m.

1987Complexity and bureaucracyThe ITQ system as introduced in the 1986 Act is initially viewed by most in the seafood industry as a relatively simple and workable management system. Post 1986, it is regularly revised and in some peoples’ opinions becomes complex, bureaucratic and expensive to manage. 
1987MAFFish establishedMAFFish is established and organised around four regions. 
1987 - 1988ITQ prompts indigenous claims

The initial allocation of ITQ prompts indigenous claims and a series of High Court injunctions, as it excluded a significant number of part-time fishers, many of whom are Māori. The ITQ system also excludes any reference to Māori fishing rights, which Māori argue were secured under the Treaty of Waitangi 1840.

198910% of TACCs to MāoriThe Māori Fisheries Act 1989 provides an interim settlement, which requires the Government to buy back and transfer 10% of TACCs to the Māori Fisheries Commission to administer. 
1990ITQ proportionate to TACC, compensation avoided

The Fisheries Amendment Act 1990 changes the basis of ITQ from a fixed tonnage to a proportion of the TACC, adjusted each year for sustainability measures. It also enables the Government to avoid substantial outlays for ITQ purchasing by implementing a swap of ITQ from QMAs where fish stocks are stressed (such as orange roughy) to QMAs where the fish stocks remain plentiful. The effect is that TACs and TACCs can be varied each year without compensation. Following lobbying by the industry, resource rentals, which were a feature of the system, are frozen for 5 years.

1992Sealord deal (Treaty Settlement)

The Treaty of Waitangi Settlement Act 1992 is intended to be the full and final settlement of all Māori commercial fishing rights, claimed as secured under the Treaty of Waitangi. Substantial assets, primarily quota and half ownership of Sealord Products Limited are transferred to Māori. The Act also provides for 20% of quota holdings for all new species placed under the ITQ system to be allocated to Māori. The Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission (TOKM) is set up to administer assets allocated to iwi and facilitate their entry into fishing.

1992Fisheries Task ForceThe Fisheries Task Force report on the future of New Zealand fisheries management proposes a greater role to be played by ITQ owners in the management of their fisheries through quota owner associations, funded by levies from their members. 
1994Cost recovery and devolution

The Fisheries Amendment Act 1994 removes resource rentals and implements a full cost recovery regime, aimed at making MAF’s administration simpler and more responsive. It focuses on the delivery of core services (allocation of harvesting rights, liaising and dispute resolution, enforcement and prosecution) and devolving non-core services to the private sector. Annual catch entitlements (ACE) are introduced and provide the tradable right to harvest from a fish stock.

1995Ministry of Fisheries establishedThe Ministry of Fisheries is established as a stand-alone Department, and MAF reverts to Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. MAF Fisheries Research is merged into the Crown Research Institute, NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research). Concerns are expressed about the decline in research funding from $21.5m in 1992/3 to $15.8m in 1996. 
1996Ecosystem approach and co-managementThe Fisheries Act 1996 brings about several significant changes. An “ecosystem approach” (recognising the interconnections of species and habitats) is adopted to ensure the sustainability of the environment as well as fish stocks. This macro-management approach is to be adopted in consultation with relevant stakeholders and provides for more explicit environmental standards. The second major change is the shift towards co-management, with fishers taking greater responsibility for managing the resource. A greater role is earmarked for the Seafood Industry Council (Seafic), which subsumes the functions of the NZ Fishing Industry Board (FIB) and NZ Fishing Industry Association (FIA) as an adviser to the Minister, who under the new Act has increased powers. Twenty-seven quota owning groups or companies (QOCs) are set up to interact with the Ministry and represent the interests of their quota holders. 
1997Mussel exports top $86mBy 1997, 600 mussel farms are producing 66,000 tonnes worth $86m in exports. 
1998Registry contracted outRegistry services are contracted out to FishServe. 
1999Quota Owning CompaniesThe Fisheries Amendment Act 1999 seeks to devolve responsibility for purchasing or providing non-core government fisheries services to QOCs. It allows the Minister to devolve registry and other functions to QOCs, and streamlines the ITQ system. 
2001FishServe set up

New registers and a balancing regime are implemented, and registry services are devolved to FishServe.

2004Framework for implementing Deed of SettlementThe Māori Fisheries Act 2004 seeks to provide for the implementation of the 1992 Deed of Settlement, the development of iwi interests in fishing and fisheries and enable the allocation and management of settlement assets. 
2004Maori aquaculture settlementThe Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004 provides full and final settlement of Māori claims to commercial aquaculture on or after 21 September 1992, and provides for the allocation and management of aquaculture settlement assets 
2004Marine protected areas policyThe Ministry of Fisheries and the Department of Conservation(DoC) release the Marine Protected Areas Policy, aimed at establishing a network of areas that protect marine biodiversity. 
2004Biosecurity back to MAFBio-security functions are transferred back to MAF 
2005Strategy for managing the environmental effects of fishing

A strategy for managing the environmental effects of fishing (SMEEF) on other species, marine habitats and ecosystems is released.

2005Recreational advisory forums

Regional recreational advisory forums are set up to provide input and advice to fisheries management processes. A national recreational advisory committee is set up to advise the Minister directly on recreational fishing issues.

2005Deed of Settlement implementation commencesImplementation of the Deed of Settlement commences with the establishment of iwi forums, appointment and training of kaitiaki and provision of support services to iwi. Implementing customary fisheries management tools, including mätaitai, taiapure and temporary closures commences. 
2005Regional councils take over aquaculture permittingResponsibility for aquaculture and fish farming development is transferred to Regional Councils. 
2006Collaborative fisheries plansAfter a number of attempts, the Ministry commences the development of collaborative Fisheries Plans for inshore, deepwater, freshwater and highly migratory species within the EEZ. 
2007Benthic protection areasFollowing an industry proposal, the Ministry closes 17 areas to bottom trawling, providing protection to an area of seabed habitat equal to 1.2 million square kilometres or 32% of the EEZ. This is the largest single marine protection initiative in a nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone anywhere in the world. 

Agreement in principle on $97m Māori commercial aquaculture settlement

The Crown, Te Waipounamu (South Island) and Coromandel iwi reach an agreement in principle for a $97m early cash settlement of aquaculture obligations, in repect of "pre commencement" space created between 21 September 1992 and 31 December 2004.  This agreement covers all major species currently farmed in New Zealand and specifically the Coromandel, Marlborough Sounds, Tasman Bay and other Te Waipounama areas.

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