Stakeholder Management of Recreational Fisheries

  • John Luxton
Fisheries and Aquaculture


Special guests, ladies and gentlemen. I have been asked to talk with you today about the issue of stakeholder management of recreational fisheries. I would note however that the Government has yet to develop and approve a new policy in relation to the management of recreational fisheries. So I just want to perhaps provide some talking points about what the future could look like.


Some might say that the recreational sector is being gradually disempowered by the definition of enforceable harvesting and management rights in the commercial and Maori customary sectors.

In commercial fisheries, ITQ has given commercial fishers legally enforceable harvesting rights

Increasingly quota owners are forming companies to enable them to collectively manage their share of the stocks (e.g. Hoki Management Company, Orange Roughy Exploration Company, Challenger Scallops Enhancement Company)

In customary fisheries the proposed customary regulations will enable iwi and hapu to exercise customary management rights within mataitai reserves and taiapure, as well as regulate their own fishing activities within the bounds of sustainability.

In the RFC's words the recreational sector has a strong claim but a weak right

This means the recreational sector is overly reliant on the whims of politicians to achieve its aims

The recreational sector is being left behind by moves towards rights-based management in the other fishing sectors

So what can be done?

Clearly the recreational sector needs a better definition of their fishing rights

A defined entitlement to a share of the TAC would be a start; it would then be legally enforceable, therefore meeting the dual objectives of ensuring sustainability and defending against encroachment by other sectors

It would however mean that the recreational sector would have to then manage a binding annual allowable catch.

Recreational fishers, like Maori customary fishers, have a strong geographic focus to their fishing interest

Plainly it is not much use to recreational fishers to be told they are entitled to take a particular tonnage in a quota management area, when what they want is to be able to take their entitlement within a certain distance from shore

Clearly, the definition of entitlements could be used as the first step in a path toward enabling recreational management of discrete areas to better achieve recreational interests.

How could collective management rights come about?

If harvesting entitlements for each stock were defined they would need to be allocated, (that is, the recreational share of a particular TAC would need to be handed over to `someone').

It is impractical, unlikely and even undesirable to allocate recreational harvesting rights to individuals, but to whom should they be allocated?.

The Crown could continue to `hold' the entitlement and manage the stock on behalf of recreational fishers as at present, but this is unlikely to yield customised management of recreational fisheries nor yield stakeholder management of recreational fisheries

However the harvesting entitlements for particular stocks could be allocated to either:

elected organisations charged with managing the marine recreational fisheries, for instance a series of marine fish and game councils, or
the existing regional councils , or
recreational fishing clubs, whose objective would be to manage the entitlements for the benefit of all recreational fishers, or
some other body.
These organisations would set the recreational fishing rules -- e.g. bag limits, fishing methods -- for the stocks they are charged with managing in a manner similar to the way Government currently has to.

The government's interest would be limited to assurance that the recreational catch limits were adhered to and that recreational fishing was not adversely affecting the environment.

Significantly, these organisations could negotiate with other rights holders to enable them to either:

manage discrete areas by negotiating an agreement to partition one or more quota management areas, or
manage entire stocks in conjunction with other rights holders (no kidding commercial, recreational and customary Maori reaching a binding agreement as to the appropriate means to manage the stock and distribute fishing effort!)
to acquire additional TAC from other quota holders
to focus more on fisheries enhancement in the marine environment.
I might go further and suggest that our heavily fished areas might also be better managed long term by the stakeholders all coming together in a model similar to the Fish and Game Council, or a taiapure involving recreationalists, customary, conservationists and commercial fishers.

The Ministry's role could eventually become one of policy and monitoring policy.

The Bay of Islands could be operated in such a manner and see a result of improved fishing for all. But as all of this is just my initial thoughts on where to from here, I should seek your views on how we ensure recreational rights are protected long term.

In effect the empowering of the recreational sector to exercise management rights over their fisheries (as opposed to merely harvesting rights) can come about through the process of defining and allocating recreational entitlements.

Instead of the currently painful process presently underway in parts of the commercial sector to form management companies, recreational entitlements could be allocated directly to organisations which could exercise management rights.

The recreational sector might even emerge a step ahead of the commercial sector.

Trout Farming

To be a little contentious, there is one other issue I would like to just touch on, that of trout farming. Can anyone tell me as the new Minister of Fisheries, why trout are not farmed and making a contribution to the fishing industry and the economy?


In conclusion, I believe we need to do some work to ensure that recreational fishers rights are clarified and protected. Like you, I want every New Zealander to have the opportunity to enjoy the pleasure of recreational fishing. However there are challenges that both you and I must work constructively through. I have outlined some ideas and welcome your thoughts.

I would like to wish you well for the next few days of your conference. I hope that they are productive and enjoyable. I look forward to continuing to work with you and your organisation to make progress for the New Zealand fishery and those who enjoy its benefits. Thankyou.