Home - option4.co.nz The more people we can get involved in these issues the better Fishing in New Zealand

YES I want to be
kept informed
Change existing options

Promote option4

Please help option4




What is a fisheries AMP?
by John Holdsworth
February 2004

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 sustainable.

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 yield (MSY).

For an AMP to be approved the Minister needs to be convinced that:

  1. there is a reasonable probability that stock size (biomass) is greater than the size that will support the MSY; and
  2. that the stock will remain at or above the level that will support the MSY over the five year period of the programme.

Of course 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 down twice.


  • 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.

John Holdsworth
Blue Water Marine Research

Back to the Fisheries Management FAQ page here >> >>


site designed by axys © 2003 option4. All rights reserved.