Government responds to PM’s Chief Science Advisor’s report on commercial fishing

Oceans and Fisheries

Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker today released the Government’s response to the Future of Commercial Fishing in Aotearoa New Zealand report.

“The report has already been influential in shaping this Government’s approach to oceans and fisheries management,” David Parker said.

The report calls for immediate evidence-based action and identified the first steps to be taken towards some longer term recommendations.

In line with this, the Government’s response phases the actions that can be delivered within the current regulatory framework.

“I commend the work of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Prof Dame Juliet Gerrard, and her team for their report,” David Parker said. 

“The Government is committed to ensuring the long-term health and resilience of ocean and coastal ecosystems.” 

Significant action has already been taken by this Government that contribute towards a number of the recommendations. These include: 

  • Establishing the Oceans and Fisheries portfolio to support a more integrated approach to managing the oceans. The Government’s vision is to ensure the long-term health and resilience of ocean and coastal ecosystems, including the role of fisheries.
  • Requiring cameras on up to 300 inshore commercial fishing vessels by 2024.  This will cover up to 85 per cent of the total catch from inshore fisheries and focuses on those fisheries that pose the greatest risk to protected species.
  • Progress to restore the health of the Hauraki Gulf, as part of Revitalising the Gulf initiative. This includes establishing 18 new marine protected areas and restricting trawl fishing to selected corridors.
  • Law changes affecting commercial fishing, including setting the right incentives for fishers by tightening and simplifying rules around what fish must be landed and what can be returned to the sea. New graduated offences and penalties are also being put in place alongside the new rules for commercial fishers.

“These reforms, along with the development of an Industry Transformation Plan (ITP), are important to the commercial fishing sector as it moves to reduce the environmental effects of fishing and increase value for the sector. 

“The health of our fisheries is important to everyone. We need to keep pace with developments in technology, science and the expectations of consumers and New Zealand’s trading partners.” 

Better information for decision-makers, to help them define and protect habitats of particular significance for fisheries, will further support an ecosystems-based approach to managing fisheries. Improvements are also underway to increase the accessibility and transparency of key fisheries information online. 

“Fundamental to fisheries management is the Māori-Crown partnership. A key focus will be to further strengthen processes for tangata whenua input, including working with Iwi who wish to refresh Iwi fisheries plans. 

“Other actions in the response will take longer and require further investment. There’s still a lot to do and this extensive work programme will span several years.”

Progress on this work will be reported to Cabinet by December 2024, so it can review the scope of changes and set actions to be undertaken from 2025.