is a fisheries AMP?
by John Holdsworth
Once a commercial
quota (TACC) is set it is very hard to make a case to change that
quota without new information. In 1991 the Ministry proposed the
Adaptive Management Programme (AMP) as a way of allowing a temporary
increase in quota for developing fisheries where there was limited
information on stock size.
The idea was that in exchange for a temporary increase in quota
the commercial fishers would record far more detailed information
on where they fish, their fishing effort and the size of fish they
caught etc. After 5 years there had to be a full review of this
information, including a new stock assessment. An important indicator
of changes in a fishery is catch per unit of effort (CPUE).
For example at the start CPUE might be 100 kg of gemfish per 1000
hooks set. If after 5 years of increased catch under the AMP CPUE
had dropped steadily to 60 kg of gemfish per 1000 hooks then that
fishery was clearly in trouble. If CPUE had dropped to 90 kg per
1000 hooks in the first couple of years and then remained at that
level for the following years then the increased catch is probably
A stock assessment model uses information on the total catch over
the history of the fishery, the change in CPUE, and information
on the age and growth of that species to estimate what the original
stock size was, the current stock size, and the maximum sustainable
For an AMP to be approved the Minister needs to be convinced that:
- there is a reasonable probability that stock size (biomass)
is greater than the size that will support the MSY; and
- that the stock will remain at or above the level that will support
the MSY over the five year period of the programme.
with most of the fisheries proposed for AMP’s there usually
no information on stock size or Maximum Sustainable Yield so there
are some checks set in place. Normally an AMP proposal should include
a “decision rule”. Using the example of gemfish again
a decision rule could be:
“If the average catch rate of gemfish for the whole season
drops below 75 kg per 1000 hooks then the AMP will finish”
and the quota will drop back to where it started from.
There used to be an annual review of each AMP, by the appropriate
MFish and stakeholder working group, of data collected and trends
in the fishery. If there are problems with the AMP the Ministry
could cancel it following an annual review. For example if all the
gemfish boats had said they would fill out extra fishing logbooks
and the annual review showed that only half of the boats where handing
them in, then the working group or MFish could decide that there
was not going to be enough information for a new stock assessment
and cancel the AMP.
The fishing industry have complained that increasingly AMPs appear
to be used as a point of leverage on industry groups on issues outside
the ‘agreed purpose of gathering of information on the stock
to inform future management decisions’. Cited examples include
environmental effects and business relationships within the industry
(Final Advice Paper 2002).
The Northern Inshore commercial fishers were refusing to pay for
monitoring the effect on recreational catch of a 43 % increase in
tarakihi quota, partly because this information would not be used
in the stock assessment.
MFish believe that they aren’t using the approval process
to get further concessions from commercial fishers. AMPs provide
certain benefits to industry and it is reasonable to expect that
they accept certain responsibilities. MFish believes that all issues
relating to management of a fishery are addressed as a comprehensive
package and that “It is important to note that the AMP does
not remove the need to act in accordance with the obligations specified
in the Fisheries Act. For example, environmental issues must be
taken into account (s 9) and social and cultural matters must be
considered (s 8)” (Final Advice Paper 2002).
At the end of 2000 the AMP “framework” was changed to
include not just developing or unexplored fisheries but also “existing/established
fisheries” that don’t have an estimate of stock size
or estimate of sustainable yield. Also the new system allows changes
to almost anything in the AMP, including the size of the quota increase
and decision rules, at the time of review. The system sets out to
collect information on the effects of fishing on the marine environment
as well as the target species. However, the annual reviews have
been replaced with reviews every 2 or 3 years. Now at the end of
the 5 year AMP if no stock assessment is possible it may be agreed
to retain the increase to commercial quota outside the AMP framework,
as long as the data collection and periodic reviews continued.
To date there has been little input from recreational fishers into
the AMP reviews and the new AMP system slipped under the radar in
2000. However attempts to fish down the northern tarakihi stock
by increasing the commercial quota by 43% bought a strong response
from option4 and other recreational groups and so far has been turned
- Mfish see AMPs “as a way to provide for utilisation of
a stock in a situations where information is deficient”.
- Industry see AMPs as a way of proving up fisheries. Taking more
catch and at the same time getting a cheaper stock assessment
than a full blown research survey.
- Recreational fishers accepted AMPs for deep water species and
some undeveloped fisheries but are getting very worried that proposals
for large increases in commercial quota for inshore shared fishers
will further reduce the quality of recreational fishing.
Blue Water Marine Research
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