Fisheries Infosite

Highly Migratory Species

International Management

Highly migratory species occur throughout the Pacific and beyond, and are fished by many nations.  New Zealand cooperates with other countries to manage these species, notably through Regional Fisheries Management Organisations including the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT). 

The CCSBT covers southern bluefin tuna fisheries throughout its range (which is throughout the southern hemisphere, mainly in waters between 30 and 50 degrees south).  The CCSBT came into being in 1994, formalising a previously voluntary arrangement between New Zealand, Australia and Japan that had existed since 1986, following concerns about the status of southern bluefin tuna stocks in the 1980s. Six countries are now Members of the Commission.

Management of all other HMS species throughout the Western and Central Pacific is the responsibility of the WCPFC. Membership of WCPFC is much larger, and includes all Pacific nations as well as distant water fishing nations. New Zealand participates as both a coastal state and a distant water fishing nation.  The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention Area is as follows (in dashed lines):

Both the CCSBT and WCPFC can agree on conservation and management measures that New Zealand must apply within its fisheries waters (as well as on the high seas). New Zealand is responsible for ensuring management measures applied within its waters are compatible with those of the two RFMOs, and fishing by New Zealand flagged vessels both within and beyond the New Zealand zone is carried out in accordance with any measures put in place by the relevant RFMO. As an active participant in the RFMOs, New Zealand seeks to influence the conservation and management measures that are agreed upon. Equally, RFMOs have an obligation to ensure measures they apply are compatible with national measures already in place.

New Zealand is at the outer limit of the distribution of most HMS, and our catches are only a tiny fraction of the total. The abundance of HMS in New Zealand waters is seasonal, and varies from year to year. If stocks decline, the impacts are likely to be apparent in reduced availability of HMS in New Zealand waters.

Regional Fisheries Management Organisations

Regional fisheries management organisations or arrangements (RFMO) play a critical role in the global system of fisheries governance. They are the primary mechanism for achieving co-operation between and among all fishing countries, including coastal states, which is essential for the effective management of international fisheries.

The essential purpose of an RFMO is to provide an effective forum for international co-operation in order to enable states to agree on conservation and management measures for those fisheries.

Pacific Capacity Building

MPI has a supporting role providing technical assistance to strengthen Pacific fisheries administrations. The delivery of this work occurs under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).

Work under the MoU aims to support Pacific Island countries to maximise economic and developmental benefits through the sustainable management and utilisation of their fisheries resources. Since the commencement of this work in 2011, MPI has delivered targeted cooperative initiatives with Pacific Island countries, in some cases in collaboration with other providers in the region including SPC (Secretariat for the Pacific Community) and FFA (Forum Fisheries Agency).

Work includes supporting countries with whom New Zealand has a Fisheries Cooperation Arrangement (i.e. Te Vaka Moana Arrangement Participants - Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga; and the fisheries cooperation grouping of Kiribati, Nauru, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu) and Pacific Partners with which New Zealand has bilateral programmes (Tuvalu and Solomon Islands).

MPI's HMS team has been working in close association with the Fisheries Division of Tokelau’s Department of Economic Development, Natural Resources and Environment to support the implementation of new Regulations for management of fisheries in Tokelau's exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Cooperative work with Tokelau continues to build capability of their fisheries staff through the delivery of fisheries management training workshops and attachments. 

Contact us about this page    Last updated 24/01/2017