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Talley: New fisheries setup "sensible policy reform"

Monday 18 December 2017

A separate Ministry of Fisheries is a sensible policy reform.  MPI was in effect a super-ministry and both the MPI Minister and his officials were too thinly spread to be totally effective in the administration of the $2 billion dollar a year seafood industry. 

As a stand-alone ministry the industry will develop relationships with dedicated fishery officials and work in a more collaborative working environment than existed within the MPI “command and rule” type mentality.

The result will be less friction in the decision-making process resulting in quicker decisions and improved fisheries management structures. 

We have just all witnessed a change in government. 

This new coalition Government is very strong on strengthening regional development.  It is well known in political circles that strong economic wellbeing in the regions results in a stronger overall New Zealand economy.  Regional New Zealand is the engine room for employment and generation of export revenues. 

If this coalition Government is serious about regional development it would be a “no brainer” to relocate NIWA from Greta Point in Wellington to Nelson city as part of that regional development policy. 

Nelson has New Zealand’s largest and most diverse seafood cluster including other seafood research providers such as Plant and Food and the marine-focused Cawthron Institute. 

Nelson is also home to New Zealand’s largest fishing port. 

NIWA scientists would enjoy the lifestyle provided in the Nelson province and would benefit from being closer to the “heart of the fishing industry”.  When based in Nelson the fisheries scientists would be able to regularly visit the captains and crews of the diversified fishing fleet that operates out of the port of Nelson – all of this important interaction with industry is missing in their Wellington base at Greta Point. 

A more focused fishery ministry should see a more flexible system of stock management with more timely TACC adjustments and other management outcomes. 

It is an indictment on the old MPI “command and control” regime that after nine years of enormous amounts of executive time from both the industry and government officials the problems associated with discards, deemed values and by-catch issues have not been resolved. 

MPI were too slow in their decision-making processes to ensure that the New Zealand seafood industry could achieve the full economic potential from our extensive marine resources.

In today’s fast-changing world it is imperative that all of those involved in the decision-making process adopt management policies that reduce bureaucratic drag.   

In summary, I strongly support the concept of a separate Ministry of Fisheries.  It will result in a more inclusive and collaborative approach to fishery management in the future.

-Talley’s Group head Sir Peter Talley

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