Call for New Zealand fisheries reform input

New Zealand vessel 'Tokatu' New Zealand’s fisheries management system is undergoing reform. Credit Simek

The next phase of reform of New Zealand’s fisheries management system has been launched with a call for public input into new rules for the commercial industry designed to improve fishing practices.

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash has released a discussion document on proposed changes, including streamlining and updating the ministerial decision-making process for setting catch limits.

“I have been told by tangata whenua, the commercial fishing industry, recreational fishing groups and environmental organisations that they all want a better fisheries management system,” Mr Nash said.

“Some of the current rules for commercial fishing are complex, open to interpretation, offer few incentives to adopt innovative practices, and may lead to lost economic value and wasted resources.”

Four reform areas

Public feedback is being sought across four main areas of reform. One area is amending the rules for what fish must be brought back to port and what fish can be returned to the sea. This includes options to tighten the rules so fewer fish are returned to sea, or increasing flexibility so more fish can be returned.

Other areas of consideration include reviewing the offences and penalties regime to ensure it’s fair and effective; streamlining and updating the ministerial decision-making process for setting catch limits; and technical changes to the Fisheries Act.

Fisheries New Zealand officials will hold consultation meetings in ten centres across the country. Decisions arising from the consultation period are expected to result in the development of new legislation later in 2019.

Mr Nash stated that electronic reporting is being further rolled out this year, while onboard cameras will be considered but conditions will include that regulations are practical to implement, and the technology is operationally ready.

“Our fisheries management regime is underpinned by the Quota Management System (QMS) which has been in place for thirty years and is not affected by these proposed changes,” he stressed. “But we are always looking for ways to improve the management of our fisheries. We want commercial fishing practice to align with our goals of sustainability. We also want to encourage innovation and new technology and to promote premium fisheries products as part of New Zealand’s global brand.”

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