Fisheries management report gets mixed response

A report released earlier this week by think tank The New Zealand Initiative, argues that a sharp discrepancy between the management of recreational and commercial fisheries is contributing to dwindling fish stocks, and that a comprehensive approach to fisheries management must be taken.

The report, titled: The Future Catch: Preserving recreational fisheries for the next generation, notes that little is known about the sustainability of recreational fisheries. This is due to a lack of quantitative stock assessments, the cost of which in commercial fisheries is largely recovered by the relevant stock quota holders, it says.

To address this the report suggests, among other things, integrating recreational fisheries into management policies and processes; reaching agreed abundance (biomass) targets for shared fisheries; and switching to a proportional basis for total allowable catch (TAC) allocations.

Environmental NGO Environmental Defence Society (EDS) supports the report’s findings and has separately called for a wide-ranging public inquiry into New Zealand’s fisheries management system. “Many inshore stocks are being inadequately researched and poorly managed. For example, more than 70% of the Hauraki Gulf’s finfish harvest is from stocks of unknown status. Only 5% of the harvest is from stocks identified as likely or very likely to be above their target size”, said Raewyn Peart, Policy Director at EDS.

“We need better funding models, and the application of more innovative tools and approaches, to significantly improve the management of these coastal fisheries”, she said.

The report’s author Dr Randall Bess noted that New Zealand’s recreational fishing sector needs a representative peak body to bring all marine fishing interests together to engage with the Minister of Fisheries, the new Ministry of Fisheries and other fishing sectors.

However, the body identified as being the best candidate peak representative body, the NZ Sport Fishing Council, has rejected all of the report’s recommendations. Stuff reported NZ Sport Fishing Council vice-president Bob Gutsell as saying: “The council does not support any of the [report’s] recommendations, particularly around proportional allocation.”

To read the full ‘Future Catch’ report, click here.