Aquaculture for all

Fishing Changes Announced

Sustainability Politics +2 more

NEW ZEALAND - Minister for Primary Industries David Carter has approved changes to some fishing catch limits and management controls, to ensure fish stocks are being managed for productivity and economic growth within sustainable limits.

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Some of these take effect on 1 October 2012.

The decisions follow an annual scientific stock assessment and fisheries management review run by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). Stakeholders, including fishers, environmental groups, tangata whenua, and the public were consulted on proposed changes.

"Good fisheries management requires a continuing process of review and adjustment using the best scientific research and management information," James Stevenson-Wallace, Fisheries Management Director says.

"Catch limits can be changed to take account of the current abundance of a fish stock, to make sure fishing is occurring at sustainable levels. Other management controls may also need to be changed to keep the system working effectively."

This year's changes are:

  • increasing the total allowable catch (TAC) for seven inshore stocks, with potential gains of $800,000 in landed value;
  • continuing a programme of reducing the TAC for five bluenose stocks, to enable the bluenose fishery to rebuild;
  • including school shark to Schedule 6 of the Fisheries Act 1996, potentially reducing current annual costs to commercial fishers of $190,000;
  • adjusting the deemed value rates across 41 fish stocks, where MPI considers more effective incentives for fishers to land and balance catch with Annual Catch Entitlement (ACE) are required;
  • change to deemed values for snapper.

"Depending on the stock, the information about the seven inshore stocks comes from inshore trawl surveys undertaken by NIWA for MPI, catch history or catch-per-unit-effort information from fishers, or a combination of sources," Mr Stevenson-Wallace says. This covers stocks of red gurnard, john dory, elephantfish, dark ghost shark and porae.

The total allowable catch for the bluenose stocks around New Zealand (excluding the Kermadecs stock) is being set at 1194 tonnes, down from 1685.

The bluenose decision is the continuation of a planned three-year phased reduction which started in 2011, to ensure rebuilding of bluenose fisheries. The commercial sector is bearing the bulk of catch reductions for bluenose, Mr Stevenson-Wallace says. That is because that sector takes the greatest proportion overall and has benefited from catch increases in the past. MPI expects to receive more information on recreational fishing of bluenose from a large-scale multi-species survey that is currently underway.

The change of status of school shark will allow fishers to return this species to the sea if it is caught and likely to survive (which is generally prohibited for species included in the Quota Management System).

"Research has shown school sharks can survive capture and release well," Mr Stevenson-Wallace says. "Allowing this will help maintain the school shark stock, and reduce costs to fishers who would otherwise land them without catch entitlement and would have to pay a deemed value."

The deemed value framework lists the payment that fishers have to make for fish that are landed and where the fisher cannot source catch entitlement to cover it. Deemed values are designed to protect the long-term value and good management of stocks by helping ensure the overall commercial catch does not exceed the available catch entitlements.

"The introduction of a differential deemed value schedule for snapper has been made as the result of information suggesting there have been strong incentives to misreport and discard excess snapper catch," Mr Stevenson-Wallace says.

"The new differential deemed values schedule for snapper reduces the cost to fishers who accidentally catch a small quantity of snapper and can't get catch entitlement for it. This reflects the increasingly detrimental impact of higher levels of overcatch on sustainability and utilisation objectives. It will help limit any snapper over-catch to rare and infrequent landings."

The catch limit changes take effect on 1 October 2012. Other changes will come into effect after this date.

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