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Looking out to sea from seashore at Mana, Wellington, New Zealand

New Zealand Challenges

An independent review of New Zealand’s fisheries sector undertaken in 2008 by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that New Zealand fisheries management is amongst the world’s best. However the report also identified that there remain some significant challenges that will need to be tackled if the considerable potential for economic, cultural, social and environmental value from New Zealand’s fisheries resources is to be fully realised.

The PWC report found that most fisheries management systems operating around the world are characterised by multiple and conflicting objectives, multiple stakeholders with divergent interests, and high levels of uncertainty about the ecosystem and fish resources being managed.  New Zealand is no different.  Without some form of Government oversight and policy intervention, a number of issues tend to arise, including the following:

• Depletion of the resource.
• An inability of those harvesting the resource to secure benefits from it.
• An over-investment in utilisation.
• Under-investment in management.
• A lack of confidence by the wider community.

The New Zealand fisheries management system currently uses a mix of controls on both the total amount of fish that can be taken
and on fishing methods, seasons, size limits etc.  These tools aim to influence the behaviours of fishers and other users of the aquatic environment.  Such tools comprise a mix of controls and sanctions, as well as economic incentives and instruments.

Punakaiki, South IslandIn many parts of the world, over-fishing has depleted fish stocks and aquatic environments have been damaged by the use of questionable fishing methods.  Internationally, fisheries managers face common challenges in their attempts to manage fisheries sustainably.  These include conflict over allocation between users, too many fishing vessels, increasing demand for fish and fish products, consumer demand for environmental sustainability, uncertainty and high costs of information, lack of understanding of dynamic marine ecosystems, changing environmental conditions, incomplete monitoring, and, in many fisheries, high levels of non compliance with fisheries rules.

In New Zealand, we have avoided the worst of these problems.  Our quota management system, when introduced, was worldleading.  In recent years, further significant gains have been difficult to secure.  There is considerable potential to further improve the value derived from this scarce and precious national resource.

Fisheries resources are shared among those who derive legitimate value from them — including customary, amateur, and commercial fishers, people who value knowing that our fisheries and aquatic environment are in good health and other non-extractive users.  Those who have the right to use fisheries resources also have responsibilities.  Responsibilities include using fisheries in a sustainable and efficient manner, protecting the aquatic environment, and taking only their share of the available yield.

Current generations must also share fisheries resources with future generations, since some adverse effects of fishing may only be reversible over a number of human generations.

These are not new challenges.  However, there is a sense that the rate and extent of the change arising from the multiplicity of interests, expectations, and challenges facing the sector will continue to accelerate.

Any new vision and action plan for 2030 which seeks to increase the value of New Zealand fisheries must respond to all of these issues.  Developing these responses poses particular public policy challenges and successfully implementing them will require us both to learn from recent history and to confront a number of longstanding problems in the current system.  The development, over the next five to ten years, of a much more open, enabling and dynamic system of fisheries management will be critical to success.

Source : Fisheries 2030 (Price Waterhouse Coopers, November 2008)

Contact us about this page    Last updated 10/07/2009