Determining the Total Allowable Catch (TAC)
Under the QMS, the Minister of Fisheries is responsible for ensuring that fishstocks are maintained at or above a level that can produce the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY). MSY reflects the greatest yield that can be achieved over time while maintaining a stock's productive capacity, having regard to the population dynamics of the stock and any environmental factors that influence the stock. Controls are set so that the biomass level can support the maximum sustainable yield (BMSY). This provides the conditions to maximise the yield of the fishery without compromising sustainability. Once the MSY is identified, the TAC of a stock at that time can be determined.
The Ministry provides advice to the Minister on the setting and allocation of TACs to each fishing sector.
TACs, once set, remain in place for each of the following fishing years until amended. The Fisheries Act 1996 (the Act) prescribes that TACs can only be amended at the start of the relevant fishing year. Despite this the Act contains provisions that allow the Minister, for a small number of stocks, to increase the TAC within a fishing year, for the remainder of that fishing year.
Allocating the TAC
From the TAC an allowance is made to provide for recreational fishing, customary uses and all other fishing-related mortality of that stock. The remainder is available to the commercial sector as the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC). This is the total quantity of each fish stock that the commercial fishing industry can catch for that year.
Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC)
MFish must identify the share of the TAC that can be harvested commercially - the TACC - for each stock. The Minister must set this limit having had regard to the level of non-commercial fishing (customary and amateur) after having made an allowance for other sources of fishing-related mortality of the stock.
Amateur fishers do not need a licence to fish and there is no mandatory reporting by amateur fishers.
Like TAC decisions, the Act requires decisions on TACCs to be made at the start of a fishing year for that and subsequent fishing years until amended.
Once the TACC is set the fishing rights are distributed to quota owners through the QMS.