Promising new model for fishery management

  • Pete Hodgson
Fisheries and Aquaculture

Fisheries Plans offer a new way of managing fisheries with greater stakeholder involvement and less reliance on regulation, Minister of Fisheries Pete Hodgson told the Seafood Industry Council's annual conference today.

Fisheries Plans are provided for in the Fisheries Act 1996 but none have yet been introduced. The Ministry of Fisheries has recently begun consulting the seafood industry and other interested parties on a draft policy framework for Fisheries Plans.

"The Ministry has deliberately taken a thoroughly non-prescriptive approach, because a Fisheries Plan is as much a process as an outcome," Mr Hodgson said. "Fisheries plans can and almost certainly will differ widely, depending on the fishery to be managed. They will probably suit some fisheries but not others.

"The idea is that with the right process, the right content and the right management a plan will allow stakeholders to step up to the plate and allow the Government to retreat. It is a kind of managed, supervised devolution."

Mr Hodgson said some fisheries with relatively advanced and integrated management structures were already showing the way. Examples included the Challenger scallop fishery in Tasman Bay and Golden Bay, the Gisborne area rock lobster fishery (quota area CRA3) and the South Island eel fishery.

In those fisheries the participants have recognised their common interests in establishing integrated management structures, with express provision for the equal involvement of Maori, recreational and environmental groups in decision processes.

"Fishing is a highly regulated industry," Mr Hodgson said. "But Fisheries Plans give us all an opportunity to reduce centrally controlled regulation. They give us all an opportunity for a particular fishery or a particular locality to take ownership of sustainable management. And they have the potential to give effect to Government's wish to reduce compliance costs across the economy."

"The Government will always be in the background with the power to intervene, because fisheries are a national resource. But smart stakeholders have the potential to manage a patch of the commons better than smart bureaucrats."