The failure of
MFish to be conservative, wise and prudent has been a major
factor in fisheries failures.
In addition, the QMS gives a property
right to a public resource. This culture is fundamentally
flawed. Any fishery should not belong to a private company
through its quota; it should be regarded first and foremost
as public property.
The private “property right” culture is further
aggravated by the tradeable aspect. Powerful, moneyed companies
will badger small commercial fishermen to sell quota. In
this way a company accumulates quota and begins to dominate
The bigger share of the quota, gives greater power and muscle
to influence a weak Ministry.
This causes unnecessary tension between fisheries managers,
corporate companies, smaller commercial operators and non-commercial
interests, and seriously undermines the sustainability intentions
and provisions of the Act.
Practical approaches and solutions are too often not used.
For example, in the gurnard fishery current commercial fishing
methods are capturing fish less than 28cm. The return on
fish this small can be as low as seven cents a kilo. The
answer seems obvious. An increase in mesh size and the use
of square mesh cod ends would leave those juveniles in the
water - a far better outcome for both the health of the
fishery and future generations.
key aim of the Act is to ensure the number of fish (termed
biomass) never falls below the critical level where overfishing
The obvious solution to enhancing and rebuilding many of
our fisheries is to set a higher target biomass (i.e. more
fish) to achieve the Act's purpose.
A larger biomass would mean more fish in the water, higher
catch rates for all fishers and would ensure the critical
line of overfishing is never approached. To achieve this
the target biomass as prescribed by the Act - at or above
Bmsy - must be applied correctly, meaning Bmsy should be
the minimum target, not the actual target.
Then, the intention of the Act, to provide abundant fisheries
for all New Zealanders would be achieved. Deliberately setting
higher target biomass levels will result in:
- Avoidance of overfishing and ensuring fisheries are
sustainable and well managed.
- Improved catch per unit of effort (CPUE) through shorter
- Less trawling due to improved CPUE thus minimising
- Better quality and value of fish through increased size.
- Less juvenile mortality and improved yield due to a
greater proportion of legal-sized fish in the fisheries.
- Better delivery of the Crown’s obligations to
“allow for” customary and recreational fishing
- Reduced tension between fishing sectors.
An abundance of
fish to provide for improved recreational fishing was a
foundation principle upon which the QMS was built. It is
now time for both our elected government and its administrators
to deliver on those promises.
Further details on how the target biomass can be achieved
are online at The
People's Submission page » » »