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Next phase in fisheries management reform

The next phase of reform of the fisheries management system has been launched with a call for public input into new rules for the commercial industry.

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash has released a discussion document on proposed changes designed to improve commercial fishing practices.

“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 says.

“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.

“We are asking for public feedback across four main areas of reform:

  • 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;

  • 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.

“I would like to hear a wide range of views. Fisheries New Zealand officials will travel the country to hold consultation meetings across ten centres, from Whangarei to Invercargill. Submissions can be made via the website, or by email or post. I anticipate decisions arising from this exercise will result in the development of new legislation later in 2019.

“This new phase of fisheries management reform follows the introduction of electronic reporting of commercial catches and of vessel positions to identify what fish are being caught and where. The first commercial vessels began electronic reporting in 2017 and it is being further rolled out this year.

“I can also confirm I am committed to considering on-board cameras once these policy questions are addressed. Previous regulations were unrealistic and were developed without adequate engagement. I expect to soon provide an update to Cabinet.

“There is a process to follow before on-board cameras can be considered and I need to first ensure the regulations are practical to implement, the technology is operationally ready to go, the systems are in place, and the fisheries management framework is clearly understood. Any proposal for on-board cameras would go through a public consultation process.

“The lessons from Australia, where it took 10 years to get 80 cameras in place, demonstrate that considerable time and effort should be invested in getting it right before the cameras are rolled out.

“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. 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.

“The rules being discussed in today’s document set the framework for the next steps in fisheries management reform. They are designed to encourage a culture change so that every fish is valued by the commercial industry.  This needs to be driven by clear and easily understood rules that further incentivise the industry to adopt good fishing practices. That will require the industry to be more accountable, maximise the value of the catch, report accurately, and verify what is caught,” Mr Nash said.

The discussion document and information about the public meetings and how to make a submission can be found here: www.fisheries.govt.nz/haveyoursay . Consultation is open until 17 March 2019. 

Background: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why are you proposing to change rules for landing and return of fish to the sea?

    We’re looking to simplify the rules in commercial fisheries around what fish must be landed and what can be returned to the sea, and ensure that these rules incentivise good fishing practice.

    In some places, the commercial fishing rules are unclear, hard to understand and can be open to interpretation. This can contribute to catches not being accurately reported or accounted for.

    For example, some commonly caught fish have minimum legal sizes, while others do not, and some fish can be legally returned to the sea regardless of size. For commercially caught fish which do have a minimum legal size, all undersize fish are currently required to be returned to the sea, alive or dead.

    The current rules also provide few incentives to fishers to avoid catching small or low value fish, because many fish can be legally returned to the sea. As a result, the rules do not effectively incentivise good fishing practice, or innovation in more selective fishing methods and practices.

  2. What’s the problem with being able to return a large range of fish to the sea?

    Many of these fish may not be currently reported, so the number of fish being returned to the sea is difficult to quantify. This information is an important factor when making fisheries management decisions, such as setting catch limits for a fish stock. We need reliable and more complete information on catches to support better fisheries management.

  3. How could commercial vessels avoid catching small or unwanted fish?

    We want to ensure that all fish caught under the QMS are accounted for. We know that given the right incentives, the industry can reduce the number of small or unwanted fish they catch by changing their fishing practices, such as modifying fishing gear setup, fishing at different times, or in different places.

  4. Why aren't you proposing changes to minimum sizes for recreational fishing?

    Recreational fishing methods by and large have a relatively low impact on the marine environment. Individuals are often able to return undersized fish to the sea unharmed.

    While the survival chances of released fish will depend on the method used to catch the fish, the depth at which they are caught and how they are handled before release, individuals largely have a choice over which fish to take home and which to return to the sea.

    A recreational minimum legal size limit, in combination with a daily bag limit, is the most effective and sustainable way to control a recreational catch allowance.

  5. Why do you want to introduce new offences and penalties?

    Fisheries offending has historically been hard to detect because it typically occurs out at sea, well away from the public eye. As a result we have strong penalties in place for when it is detected.

    The introduction of electronic catch and position reporting will increase the likelihood that breaches of commercial fishing rules are detected. As a result, we need to ensure flexible penalties are available and that we can respond in a commensurate way to the level of offending.

    Having a graduated range of offences and penalties based on the number of fish and how often breaches are made would offer a more balanced regime. It would also encourage good fishing practices if authorities had the ability to issue infringements for low-level offences.


Views sought on blue cod fishing rules

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash is encouraging people to have their say on proposed changes to rules controlling the blue cod fishery.

Proposed changes to regulations would apply to both recreational and commercial fishing. They were flagged in the Blue Cod Strategy released last month.

Mr Nash says the blue cod population is under pressure from a number of factors.

“Blue cod is one of our most popular eating fish but the species is vulnerable due to overfishing, changes to the marine environment such as warmer seas and pollution, and issues with their unique biology and life cycle,” Mr Nash says.

“The proposed changes to the recreational fishing rules include lowering daily bag limits in the South Island, which are up to 30 fish per day in some areas. The proposals also include the introduction of a two-day accumulation limit on the number of fish which can be taken over consecutive days, a requirement for blue cod to be landed in a measurable state, and a standardised minimum legal size of landed blue cod to 33cm nationwide.

“Changes proposed for both commercial and recreational fishers include introducing a minimum mesh size for cod pots of 54 millimetres.

“Blue cod stocks are becoming depleted. We are proposing new rules to address the decline we have seen in relatively small areas, and to make the regulations more consistent nationwide. This will make regulations easier to enforce and to comply with. 

“The consultation is now open for the public to have their say. Once consultation closes on 26 March, I will consider advice from Fisheries New Zealand officials which will include the information and feedback we receive through this process. I will make a decision on any potential changes later this year,” Mr Nash says.

For more information, and to have your say, visit www.fisheries.govt.nz/bluecod 


Growth in Police deployments

The first Police graduation for 2019 creates a new total of 1,101 frontline officers deployed around the country since the Coalition Government took office.

Police Minister Stuart Nash today presented awards to the top recruits of Wing 322, whose Patron is the former Police Minister and current High Commissioner to Australia, Dame Annette King.

“This is the fifteenth recruit wing to graduate since the government took office,” Mr Nash says.

“Today’s graduation will see 79 extra officers deployed across all Police districts during January, focussing on crime prevention and community safety during the busy summer months. One of our top priorities is to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders. There has been a significant drop in the number of people who have been victims of crime during the past year.

“I am delighted with the diversity, talent and experience our new constables bring. Fifteen percent identify as Maori, nine percent as Pasifika and a further nine percent are Asian. Nineteen new officers were born overseas and share 14 foreign languages between them. The new constables range in age from 18 to 49 years.

“One of today’s graduates represented New Zealand as a Kiwi Fern in the national rugby league team, another has recorded two no.1 albums with his bands Blindspott and Blacklistt, and one of the new constables has also achieved success as a fashion designer, reaching the finals of the World of Wearable Arts (WoW) Awards.

“The Coalition Agreement with New Zealand First undertakes to strive for 1800 new Police officers during our first term. In addition, there will be 485 new support staff.

“There is very strong interest from potential applicants who are keen on making a difference with a career in the Police. In the last six months of 2018 more than 2,800 people applied to join Police, an increase of 14 per cent on the same period in 2017. A new recruit wing is graduating every month, and accounting for attrition in the current workforce, we are well on the way towards our goal,” Mr Nash says.


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