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International study looks for lessons from the New Zealand QMS

Friday 17 November 2017

The long established The Nature Conservancy, one of the world’s largest conservation organisations and a leader in coastal and marine management, last night released an extensive report on the QMS aimed at enhancing the development of fishery management programmes internationally.

The 132-page report, titled Learning from New Zealand’s 30 Years of Experience Managing Fisheries under a Quota Management System, “offers lessons relevant to many other countries that are contemplating fishery reform efforts”.

Multiple international studies have ranked New Zealand’s fisheries management system at the higher end, the report said.

New Zealand scored amongst the highest of 53 countries in an evaluation of compliance with the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Code of Conduct for responsible Fisheries and was again amongst the highest in a 2009 study of international fisheries sustainability and the overall effectiveness of management. A 2017 study of 28 major fishing nations had similar findings, ranking New Zealand fifth overall.

However, the New Zealand public’s perception of the status and management of fisheries does not necessarily accord with the positive government and international assessment, the report notes.

“Among the factors that different stakeholders identify are a lack of understanding about the QMS, its origins and achieved outcomes.”

It said work to change that perception included a Seafood New Zealand-sponsored initiative that included the adoption of an industry-wide code of conduct and videos of the stories of people who make their living from fishing.

The report said that although the use of a rights-based fisheries management system is not unique to New Zealand, no other country has developed and used a QMS that is as comprehensive or as widely implemented for as long a period.

“Despite the multiple perspectives that exist on the performance of New Zealand’s fisheries management system, New Zealand’s experience in fisheries management offers lessons relevant to many other countries that are contemplating fishery reform efforts.”

The report was compiled by Environmental Defence Society policy director Raewyn Peart, independent fisheries consultant Michael Arbuckle and TNC fisheries experts Lynne Hale, Jeremy Rude, Carmen Revenga, Kate Kauer and Michael Looker, supported by the US-based Walton Family Foundation.

On engagement between the sectors, it said there was no system in place for the routine reporting of recreational catch.

“Inclusive, transparent processes related to stock rebuilding plans and how additional allowable catch resulting from rebuilt stocks will be allocated are not apparent, nor are there mechanisms that enable constructive inter-sectoral dialogue.”

The report added several commentators had noted there have been no effective means of bringing the various parties together in a constructive manner and this had frustrated attempts to continue the evolution of the QMS.

New Zealand also stands out in an area the industry would prefer was not the case – that is the funding of fisheries management.

“Most countries fund fisheries management as a public good from general taxation funds,” the report states.

“New Zealand is unique in that it has adopted a comprehensive regime of direct taxation (called cost recovery) to fund commercial fisheries management costs, including enforcement costs.”

The cost to industry this year is nearly $30million.

The basic tenets of what it takes to achieve sustainable fisheries are wellknown, the report said.

“Only take as many fish as can be replaced and maintain the environment that is essential for producing fish.”

TNC is looking to research other marine and freshwater issues “to learn from New Zealand’s long experience and many achievements in conservation and resource management in order to aid conservation in other places facing similar issues”.

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