Speech at the launch of the Fisheries Industry Transformation Plan, Nelson

Oceans and Fisheries

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. Kia ora koutou, and thank you for being here today.

In April – in almost my first job as a Minister – I launched the draft Fisheries Industry Transformation Plan.

I’ve learnt a lot about your industry since then – I’ve been on a boat to see the first camera operating with the AI equipment which all went live on Tuesday.

I’ve worked my way through a lot regulations, talked to the Federation of Commercial Fishermen, visited large fishing operations and talked to ACE and cultural-take fishers, hosted the Seafood Sustainability Awards, sat in the chair in Parliament for the Estimates Debate last week, appeared in front of select committees, talked to environmentalists and scientists…and read a lot of papers!

This is a plan to protect New Zealand’s oceans for future generations. It’s also a plan to earn more - without catching more.

It’s a plan to support our communities and young with training, good-quality jobs and incomes, especially those in the regions.

It’s a plan to innovate. To do better.  To cut greenhouse gas emissions, and to prepare for and deal with the impacts of climate change.

New Zealand has the fourth largest ocean area in the world. It’s 15 times the size of our land area. None of us live much more than 100 kilometres from the sea.

Seafood is already an important source of food, income and jobs. In the year to June, it earned us a record $2.1 billion in export revenue and employed nearly 12,500 people.

And that’s without factoring in the tourism industry.

Oceans make life possible, and not just because of the food and income they give us. They regulate the climate and store vast amounts of carbon dioxide.

But they under pressure too, and there’s no doubt we’ve got to find ways of doing things differently.

That’s why I’m so pleased that the Fisheries Industry Transformation Plan, that we’re here today to launch, includes strong sections on environmental protection, climate change and community development.

Increasingly, consumers here and overseas are demanding evidence that what they’re eating has been sustainably caught or grown.

This plan will drive innovations like environmentally friendly fishing gear and finding ways of adding value.

It’s been developed by the fishing industry, working with environmental groups, iwi representatives, scientists, unions and the food sector, and attracted more than 3000 submissions.

It has the goal of making New Zealand an acknowledged world leader on innovative and sustainable premium seafoods and bioproducts.

Its release is a major step on the road to achieving that.

The last time I was in Nelson, I visited a plant where scientists, industry and the Government are working together on developing a potential new industry for New Zealand – food from native microalgae.

It’s a low-carbon protein which can be grown sustainably in bioreactors on land.

I’ve also been pleased to see, since I became the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries, the way people are coming together to find ways of fishing and farming that are less environmentally destructive.

Today, I want to thank everyone who has shaped this plan.  

In particular, I would like to acknowledge the hard work of the leadership group, chaired by Wayne McNee.  While the leadership group drafted the plan, you also responded to public submissions, and then to my feedback.

I also want to thank the more than 3300 people who provided feedback during the consultation period.

The final plan is different from the draft. There is:

  • More emphasis on climate change.
  • We’ve clarified that we’re not going to subsidise new fishing vessels – although there might be a possibility regional development support at some time in the future for boats that have some efficiences.
  • We’re doing more to encourage and making it easier for people to buy local.

The submissions canvassed a huge range of views, as you’d expect, but everyone shared a common goal – making sure we’ve got healthy oceans for future generations.

Now, we need to get down to work and do it. The actions outlined in this plan require commitment and investment from across the industry, government, scientists, educational institutions, and NGOs.

It’s going to be a challenge for all of us, but it’s one I look forward to working on with all of you.

No reira tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.