Setting of Sustainability
Measures for Kahawai Stocks to be Introduced into the Quota Management
System on 1 October 2004
- I am writing to inform you of my final decisions for managing
kahawai stocks during the 2004-05 fishing year.
- The response to consultation made it clear that management of
kahawai is an important issue for all sectors. I note that there
were sixty-eight written submissions, 1790 emails and 1668 form
petitions received in response to the MFish initial position paper
(IPP). I would like to thank those that have taken the time to
think about and respond to the important policy issues and management
options raised by introducing this species into the Quota Management
System (QMS) on 1 October 2004.
- There are three key areas I have had to decide on in relation
to each kahawai stock:
- Setting Total Allowable Catches (TACs);
- Allowing for Maori customary, recreational and setting total
allowable commercial catches (TACCs); and
- Management measures in support of decisions.
- I will address each key area in turn.
- While a stock assessment indicated that by 1996 the biomass
of kahawai had declined to around 50% of its original level it
is unknown whether stocks are currently above or below the biomass
that will support the maximum sustainable yield (Bmsy). In the
absence of any information for determining a specific stock size
as a target level or for gauging the required change in catch
levels necessary to achieve any particular target level the matter
of a target stock size is largely academic.
- Nevertheless, uncertainty in the status of current biomass is
an important factor that I have taken into account in my consideration
of TAC options identified in MFish advice and in stakeholder submissions.
The uncertainty in information needs to be considered as does
the recreational (and some customary) submissions suggesting that
the stocks have declined below acceptable levels. However, I am
required to make decisions on TACs despite the uncertainty in
current stock status. Having regard to the importance of the stock
to all sectors, and therefore the socio-economic benefits associated
with harvesting, I wish to take management steps that will at
least maintain, if not improve, current biomass.
- I have carefully considered the available information for setting
TACs. There is a 1996 stock assessment for kahawai, historical
commercial catch information and estimates of current use for
all sector groups available.
- I have noted that the 1996 stock assessment provides estimates
of annual national yield ranging between 5100-14 200 tonnes.
However, I note there is some agreement in submissions and MFish
advice for considering that the best available interpretation
of annual yields from the 1996 stock assessment is either 6900,
7600 or 8200 tonnes. Some commercial and recreational submissions
supported basing TAC decisions on these yields but differed on
the level that should be chosen. The stock assessment is dated
(1996) and the inputs into the assessment are increasingly regarded
as being unreliable. Although relevant as a reference point for
TAC setting, I have noted that there is considerable uncertainty
associated with the 1996 stock assessment.
- The alternative basis for setting TACs is to base them directly
on the current use of the kahawai fishery (or a proportion of
that use). This method has the advantage of reflecting public
policy and other decisions already made for the fishery and the
current reliance on the fishery by each sector. These considerations
are reflected in the current management arrangements for the fishery
and current catch. I have noted that some industry submissions
supported adopting this option.
- Kahawai is one of the fish species most frequently caught by
recreational fishers. The best information on the level of the
recreational catch is the diary harvest survey. The 1996 and 1999-00
recreational diary harvest surveys differed considerably. Technical
experts have recently reviewed the available estimates of recreational
catch. Based on new advice, MFish considers that the most recent
diary harvest surveys provide the best available information on
current recreational catch levels. The 1999-00 (and 2000-01 rollover)
recreational harvest survey indicated the kahawai catch level
was substantially higher than the 1996 survey had indicated.
- Kahawai supports important Mäori customary fisheries, but the
size of the catch is unknown and can only be estimated by assuming
a proportion of the recreational catch.
- The commercial catch declined after peaking in 1987-88, when
purse seining was largely unconstrained. Catches during the past
five years were relatively stable, compared with the previous
ten year period.
- Some submissions disputed the estimates of current utilisation
provided in the IPP and suggested alternative data and/or time
periods of data that should be used to calculate the TAC options.
I have considered the MFish advice and the submissions relating
to this issue. I have accepted the MFish rationale for
the revised estimates of commercial average landings, revised
estimates of recreational utilisation and of the customary utilisation
and their use as a basis for the TAC options proposed. I am not
so concerned about the basis for the TAC calculation but rather
whether the overall TAC for each stock is sustainable.
- I have examined two options for setting TACs, one based on current
utilisation, the other based on a 15% reduction of both commercial
and recreational utilisation.
- In reaching a decision on which TAC option should apply in each
kahawai management area I have carefully considered the MFish
FAP and the issues raised in submissions including:
- the uncertainty in information on the status of kahawai stocks;
- the agreement of sector groups for managing kahawai stocks above
- my desire to at least maintain and hopefully improve current
- the absence of any new stock assessment until at least 2006;
- socio-economic information including the potential impacts and
benefits to all sectors.
- I am concerned about the state of kahawai stocks given that
the combined estimates of recreational catch, customary catch,
fishing-related mortality and reported commercial landings exceeds
the best available yield estimates, based on the 1996 stock assessment.
I note that these 1996 yield estimates are outdated and uncertain.
However, they remain as a reference point of sustainable yield
- I am also aware of the widespread perception of recreational
fishers that there is a marked decline in the amount and size
of kahawai available. While I recognise that anecdotal information
is uncertain I consider these perceptions to be important given
the size of the recreational fishery.
- I am obliged by legislation to ensure that the overall TAC for
each kahawai stock is sustainable. While accepting that the information
on landings is uncertain, I consider that the available data suggests
that there is a risk attached to the status of some kahawai stocks,
in particular KAH 1, KAH 2, KAH 3 and KAH 8.
- Accordingly, I am not satisfied that setting TACs based on current
utilisation in KAH 1, KAH 2, KAH 3 and KAH 8 appropriately
mitigates the risk that abundance may have declined over time
and further decline is possible at levels based on current catches.
I consider that the TACs for these stocks should at least maintain
and preferably provide for an increase in the kahawai biomass.
I have therefore decided to set a TAC for kahawai in KAH 1, KAH
2 and KAH 8 that is 15% below revised estimates of current utilisation.
TACs in other areas are to be based on conservatively derived,
nominal values. TACs for all stocks are outlined in Table 1.
- I am aware of and acknowledge the reduction in current use required
to fit within TACs I have decided and note that these will have
socio-economic impacts. However, given the clear importance of
kahawai to all sectors I consider that ensuring sustainability
of key stocks is of considerable importance. I would also expect
to keep TACs under review as new information becomes available
for the fishery.
- There are a number of competing demands for the available yield
from kahawai stocks. This was clearly apparent from submissions.
I recognise that there will be socio-economic impacts from making
allowances and setting TACCs. I have noted in particular the potential
of catch reductions on commercial operations that rely on kahawai
as an integral component of their annual catch mix. I have carefully
considered these impacts in coming to a decision. I have examined
options for increasing the value to society from allocation decisions.
However, in the case of kahawai, given the uncertainty in the
available information I believe that the information on current
use provides the best basis for allocating between each interest
group. Accordingly I have decided to set allowances and TACCs
that reflect current use in the fishery, reduced proportionally
to fit within the bounds of the TAC set to ensure sustainability.
My decisions on allowances for kahawai are outlined in the Table
Table 1: TACs,
allowances and TACCs for kahawai.
- I note that setting an allowance for recreational fishing less
than the current level of use will require adopting other management
measures to achieve this. A reduction in the daily bag limit per
person is the most likely outcome, however MFish will provide
me with further advice following consultation with recreational
fishing interests on how best to achieve the required restraint
on recreational catches.
- Views expressed in submissions on the appropriate level of deemed
value for kahawai were largely in agreement with the first option
presented in the MFish IPP. Industry considered that kahawai clearly
fits within the "all other fishstocks" category and 75% of the
port price should apply to this species as a basis for setting
deemed values. Recreational interests submitted that if the catch
history of the purse seine target fishery is removed then the
deemed value could be set at 75% of port price. Otherwise the
deemed value should be set at the alternative of 200% of the port
- I believe that there is a balance in setting deemed values to
avoid the discarding of catch at sea while ensuring that the deemed
value regime acts as a deterrent to landing kahawai in excess
of ACE, which in turn can lead to TACCs being exceeded. While
some kahawai commercial catch in key stocks will continue to be
taken as a single species target by purse seine, a larger component
of the fishery is now likely be taken as a bycatch. I consider
that the best fit for kahawai is within the definition of "all
other fishstocks" and accordingly have decided that the annual
deemed value will be set at $0.66 in KAH 1 and $0.61 for
all other fishstocks. Further, I have agreed to the application
of differential deemed values for kahawai as an added incentive
to ensure that commercial catches remain within the available
ACE for the fishery.
- Clearly the kahawai fishery is of considerable importance to
stakeholders. In the absence of any reliable stock assessment
until at earliest 2006, the decisions outlined above are intended
to maintain and hopefully improve the biomass of this important
fishery. In making these difficult decisions I have carefully
considered the potential impacts on all sectors and the uncertainty
in information on stock status and trends in abundance. I have
concluded that catch reductions are required in key kahawai stocks
to ensure their sustainability.
- The decision making process associated with the entry of kahawai
to the QMS is characterised by uncertainty in the information
available on stock status and potential sustainable yields. I
would therefore encourage stakeholders to continue with voluntary
measures to conserve stocks and to collectively consider ways
in which the issue of uncertainty surrounding kahawai stock status
can be resolved. This could occur within existing research and
assessment planning processes or, given the importance of the
fishery perhaps within a dedicated stakeholder forum.
- The recreational sector holds the majority share of the fishery.
Improved information from the recreational fishery is crucial
for gauging the success or otherwise of management measures. Improved
techniques for estimating recreational harvest are being developed.
Recreational fishers have an important opportunity to continue
influencing the future health of the fishery by agreeing to an
effective new recreational management measure for the fishery
and by ensuring this measure is complied with to improve the abundance
- Equally monitoring the ongoing performance of the commercial
management regime will be critical to the future management of
- The quality of the debate over management measures and the sheer
quantity of submissions, emails and form petitions indicates that
this is an important fishery for all users. I am grateful
to submitters for their efforts in outlining their views on the
- The QMS provides a broad framework to enable people to derive
benefits from the fishery. However, to maximise these benefits
stakeholders will now need to work together. I urge everyone to
take up this opportunity in a collaborative fashion with MFish
and other stakeholders.
Hon David Benson-Pope
Minister of Fisheries