Seafood New Zealand is staunchly politically neutral and we believe every voter should decide for themselves how to cast their vote. So if you are a voter who cares about the oceans and seafood, here’s a slightly longer Update than usual, with a summary of current party policies and some recent statements from individual party representatives at panels and debates.* Make sure you use your voice in the 2023 election. 

Labour Party

Current policies and plans

The Labour Party’s priorities and positions are outlined in current Government-led frameworks, such as the 2021 Revitalising the Gulf strategy; 2022 Fisheries Amendment Act; Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan (approved in August 2023 by Minister for Oceans and Fisheries Rachel Brooking); and 2023 Fisheries Industry Transformation Plan (ITP).

Labour has also released its Climate Manifesto.

There is no suggestion that current Bills and plans being considered under the Labour Government would not continue. These include the:

Recent comment from Labour indicates an Ocean Commission under their party policy would be unlikely, as oceans and fisheries have been brought together.

In terms of the QMS, recent comments indicate a review of the system is not a “top priority” at the moment, but the party would look at investigating a change to biomass levels of 50% in the harvest strategy standard. 

Wildlife Act

On 9 September 2023 Minister of Conservation Willow-Jean Prime announced the 1953 Wildlife Act will be repealed and replaced with “modern legislation that will better protect native species”.

National Party

To date, the National Party does not have a defined fisheries or oceans policy for this election cycle.

Statement on the Marine Protection Bill

On 29 August 2023 National Party Member and Party Spokesperson for Oceans and Fisheries; Environment; and Water, Scott Simpson spoke at the first reading of the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill and said:

“We're going to support it to select committee, we want to engage with people, we want to hear what they have to say, and my invitation to people not only on the eastern seaboard of the Coromandel Peninsula but other parts of my beautiful electorate—and, indeed, other people who have an interest from wherever they may be in relation to the Hauraki Gulf—is that I want to hear from them and the National Party wants to hear from them. So we endorse this piece of legislation, with reservations.”

Primary Sector Growth Plan

National’s Primary Sector Growth Plan does not mention “fishing” or “fisheries”. The Growth Plan does include a proposal to increase national trade via further investment in the “relationships with India, GCC and Pacific Alliance to create the conditions that will allow high quality FTAs to be achieved with them” (p10). The rest of their Growth Plan and Getting Back to Farming plan focuses on agriculture, horticulture and rural sectors.

In the recreational fishing space, the National Party has pledged to establish a Minister for Hunting and Fishing, with proposals to guarantee access to public land for hunting and fishing and affirming they will not introduce recreational licenses for sea fishing.

Based on recent comments, National would expand camera rollout to include the deepwater fleet, and would look at assessing the methodology for determining harvest biomass levels.

Green Party

The Green Party has announced several marine and fisheries-specific policies.

Healthy Ocean Act

On 10 September, the Green Party announced that, if elected, it would pass a Healthy Ocean Act to “create a legally binding commitment to establish and maintain an Aotearoa-wide network of ocean sanctuaries, free from harmful human activity” and protect 30% of the ocean by 2030.

The Party would also create a “politically independent Ocean Commission in the first 100 days of the next government”.

According to their press release, a Green Party Minister for Oceans and Fisheries would:

  • Establish a new, politically independent Ocean Commission to work with iwi, hapū, local communities, councils, stakeholders and the public to advise the government on solutions that work for people and nature.
  • Pass a Healthy Ocean Act in the next three years to create a new framework for establishing marine protected areas in a way that upholds te Tiriti o Waitangi – putting in place a binding target of protecting at least 30% of the ocean surrounding Aotearoa, and helping restore the mauri of the moana.
  • Ban the most destructive fishing methods such as bottom trawling and set netting.
  • Increase our capacity to protect our waters from invasive pest species by investing in improved marine biosecurity
  • Create a new $100 million Moana Fund to support iwi and hapū to deliver on the marine conservation priorities

According to recent debate comments, the Green Party would expand camera rollout to the deepwater fleet and make the information publicly available. The QMS would also be given a significant overhaul under the Ocean Commission.

Te Pāti Māori

According to their climate change policy, Te Pāti Māori would end new onshore oil and gas permits and withdraw existing onshore and offshore oil and gas permits within five years and aim to decommission sites by 2030. They would also ban seabed mining permits nationwide and withdraw existing seabed mining permits.

In recent comments, Te Pāti Māori MPs have stated support for the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill and environmental protection.

Te Pāti Māori would also expand the presence of cameras on the inshore and deepwater fleets and give the QMS a “complete overhaul”, with 20% of all conservation budget going to an independent Māori conservation authority.

ACT Party

ACT has no current fisheries policy. ACT MP Mark Cameron said during the first a 25 October 2022 reading of the Fisheries Amendment Bill that “ACT fundamentally can't support this bill.”

Recent comments have indicated ACT would support the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill going to Committee and a “more thoughtful approach” to marine sanctuaries. ACT would also be less likely to create an Ocean Commission.

The Opportunities Party

No stated pre-election fishing policy. In a 2020 video, TOP launched a Fishing Policy via Facebook stating TOP believes the Quota Management System stands in the way of sustainable fishing practices and methods. TOP would buy back quota and “lease it to people who would steward it well”, increase data, and dedicate resources to developing aquaculture.

New Zealand First

No stated current fisheries policy. They would exempt aquaculture from the 2010 Coastal Policy Statement.

According to recent comments, New Zealand First would also make data from cameras on boats available to the public, and would support a comprehensive review of the QMS if funding were available. There was stated support for the way forward as indicated in the ITP and innovation such as fleet renewal.


*Seafood New Zealand does not endorse any political party. This resource is intended as a neutral summary of publicly available information on political parties’ stated policies related to fisheries, fishing and the marine environment.