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The QMS now and for the future

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Hon Nathan Guy, Minister for Primary Industries

The 30th anniversary of the Quota Management System is a good opportunity to celebrate the success of New Zealand’s seafood industry, and at the same time look ahead to future opportunities. Recently the Ministry for Primary Industries released their Situation Outlook for the Primary Industries, which shows seafood exports have reached nearly $1.8 billion for the year to June 2016 – a rise of 15 per cent from the previous year.

As a Government we’ve set a goal of doubling the value of primary sector exports by 2025. It’s an ambitious target but one that has been adopted by many industry groups, including the aquaculture industry which is targeting $1 billion in sales by 2025.

Achieving this goal is all about adding value to what we produce, because we clearly can’t just double the volume of what we take from the sea. This is why the QMS has been so important to the success of the seafood industry. Not only does it allow for sustainable management, but it demonstrates to markets and consumers that we are managing our resources wisely.

It is an important part of the industry’s social licence to operate - producing our products sustainably, bringing the community with us, and earning their respect and understanding. A good example of this is Precision Seafood Harvesting, a $48 million joint project in which industry and Government has been developing revolutionary new net technology.

Undersized fish escape through specifically designed slots and fish arrive onboard in pristine condition. Any unintended catch can be returned to the sea with a much higher survivability rate. This is part of the Primary Growth Partnership and involves Sealord, Sanford, Aotearoa Fisheries Limited and MPI. The programme is expected to deliver around $44 million in economic benefits per year by 2025, and it has already won numerous accolades including Supreme Innovator award at the New Zealand Innovators Awards in 2014.

Earlier this year ‘Tiaki’ was launched as a result. Customers around the world will know when they see this label that the fish has been sustainably caught and carefully selected, and will also be able to use their smartphone to see where and how their fish was caught via a specially designed traceability app.

As well as the economic benefits, ‘Tiaki’ will have real benefits for New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of premium, high quality, sustainable products. Social licence is also a driver for MPI’s rollout of monitoring equipment on commercial fishing vessels to increase public transparency.

By and large, the industry has recognised the importance of this and shown leadership by driving the installation of cameras on the Snapper 1 trawl fleet. Work is already underway on installing electronic monitoring and cameras on all commercial fishing vessels across New Zealand, and earlier this year I signalled to my officials that this work should be fast-tracked.

This increased monitoring will provide greater transparency and improve public and market confidence that our fisheries are being well managed. While the QMS has been recognised as world leading, this is no excuse for resting on our laurels.

Last year I announced an operational review of our fisheries management system to ensure it is up to date and working efficiently and fairly. While the fundamentals of our QMS are sound, the review will look at possible changes to fisheries management processes, regulatory change, and amendments to the Fisheries Act. This programme of work is about refreshing and improving our fisheries management system, not replacing it.

The long term aim is to deliver greater net value to all sectors – commercial, recreational and customary, while enhancing the sustainability of our fisheries. The review won’t undermine existing rights and interests of commercial, customary and recreational fishers, Treaty settlements or core elements of the QMS. It also won’t be getting into the detail of things like bag limits or quotas.

The current sustainability rounds and other work programmes by MPI will continue. Later this year the Government will release a public discussion document on any proposed changes to our fisheries management system, and I’m looking forward to everyone’s feedback on this.

We should all be proud of the QMS. While it is considered a world leading system we need everybody’s input to continue to drive the economic and environmental sustainability of the seafood sector. 

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