Fisheries management – Expert Reaction

Published: Tue 5 Feb 2019 11:34 AM
Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash has proposed a series of changes to how fisheries are managed in New Zealand.
The Government is calling for public submissions on new rules that aim to reduce unnecessary waste in the industry. The proposal focuses on what fish must be brought back to port, what fish can be returned to the sea and penalties for misconduct.
The SMC asked experts to comment on the proposed reform.
Prof Simon Thrush FRSNZ, Director Institute of Marine Science, University of Auckland, comments:
“It is good to see high-level action to improve New Zealand’s fisheries management. The vision of the Minister calls for abundant and sustainable fisheries, thriving communities and healthy marine ecosystems. This reform consultation document is a small step towards this laudable goal.
“The review is very narrowly focused and avoids the big challenges fishers and fisheries managers face in realising this vision. What about the effects of climate change, impacts on marine ecosystems, restoration of depleted stocks and the balance in use of our oceans between multiple users? In New Zealand, many of us are closely connected to our coasts and oceans, and we value it in very different ways.
“There is the need for independent scientific evidence to support evidence-based decisions. Bringing new thinking and technological applications to fisheries will require innovation, partnership and diversity. We are lagging behind many developed countries, although we have the capacity in New Zealand to do much better.
“What is actually needed to support the Minister’s vision is the implementation of ecosystem-based management. This means fairness and effective management for all – including those who value marine environments for very different reasons. It is great to see a discussion focused on responsibilities, not rights, as this is a major issue requiring broad debate.”
Conflict of interest: Prof Thrush worked on the environmental effects of fishing in government-funded research programmes in the 1990s.
Prof Liz Slooten, Zoology Department, Otago University, comments:
“A dramatic reduction in the amount of fish dumped at sea is urgently needed. The MPI proposal is rather limited in scope and not likely (in its current form) to achieve this. One of the options on the list should be that all fish caught must be brought back to port. In countries where this has been done, it has led innovation to the point that nowadays the fish fillets are the byproduct. Almost every part of a fish can be used. As mentioned under Option 1 (tightening the rules for, but not banning, fish dumping) this will incentivise innovation.
“Another improvement would be to ban bulk fishing methods, like gillnets and trawling. The fish dumping that is currently taking place is the direct result of having a Quota Management System that gives fishermen quota for one fish species at a time, while allowing them to use fishing methods that catch many species at once. That means the less valuable fish species and fish sizes end up being dumped at sea. As quota holders, the large fishing companies are sending fishing boats out to sea with a ‘shopping list’ of what species and sizes they want them to catch. But they send them out with fishing methods that provide no control over what is caught. The result is large amounts of fish dumped at sea. We can not afford to continue to squander our precious fish resources this way.
“Likewise, the case studies of innovation include modifications to trawling gear. Trawl gear should instead be banned. It is extremely damaging to fish stocks, protected species and marine habitats. Modifying the gear is essentially a PR exercise, rather than a real change in how fishing is done. Fishermen using fish traps, hook and line methods and other environmentally sound fishing methods should be rewarded, rather than spending large amounts of government funding on a PR exercise for trawling. There is currently no evidence that ‘precision seafood harvesting’ works, certainly not in reducing environmental impacts.
“Other ways in which the document is very limited is that it does not include an evaluation of the Quota Management System and no plans for placing monitoring cameras on fishing vessels.”
No conflict of interest.
Science Media Centre
Our aim is to promote accurate, evidence-based reporting on science and technology by helping the media work more closely with the scientific community.
The Science Media Centre is New Zealand's only trusted, independent source of information for the media on all issues related to science. Thousands of news stories providing context from and quoting New Zealand researchers have been published as a direct result of our work.
Contact Science Media Centre
Postal Address:
PO Box 598, Wellington 6140

Next in Business, Science, and Tech

Official Cash Rate unchanged at 1.5 percent
By: Reserve Bank
NZ economy loses momentum, risks tilted to downside - IMF
By: BusinessDesk
New pilot enables NZSA to track satellites launched from NZ
NZ's living standards framework positive but has gaps
By: BusinessDesk
Safer banks and strengthened bank accountability
By: New Zealand Government
The RBNZ is renewing its approach to financial stability
By: Reserve Bank
IMF favours gradual bank capital hike
By: BusinessDesk
New Zealand: Staff Concluding Statement of Art IV Mission
By: International Monetary Fund
IMF confirms NZ economy slowing
By: New Zealand National Party
Egg Industry introduces first industry-led trace program
By: Egg Producers Federation
OECD joins KiwiBuild critics as 'reset' looms
By: BusinessDesk
Global trade crisis 'bad news' for open economies like NZ
By: BusinessDesk
NZ can improve well-being through better policymaking - OECD
Govt welcomes OECD report
By: New Zealand Government
PM's Post-Cabinet Press Conference 24 June 2019: Banking
By: The Scoop Team
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILEWe're in BETA! Send Feedback © Scoop Media