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Tuna NZ Submission on QMS

Introduction of New Species into QMS 1 October 2004

Submission Tuna NZ Inc

March 2002


This submission is an attempt to capture the evolving perspective of tuna fishers in the largest individually subscribed fishery in New Zealand. The fishery has unique advantages and unique 'challenges', we request that MFish take a fresh look at the fishery in line with an evolving climate of resource management, evident by changing legislative frameworks both nationally and internationally.

Tuna NZ Inc also acknowledge the long term involvement of a charter arrangement between a New Zealand and Japanese company, we acknowledge that this venture has assisted in retaining the TAC at the level today. Dialogue is exchanged over management issues and we accept that this company may wish to seek allocation to ensure that their historical access to the fishery is not further eroded by an increase in participants.

In this issue Tuna NZ Inc reject comments made in the SeaFIC submission regarding the tuna fishery on the grounds that they are not representative of the majority of participants.

Tuna NZ do not support any level of priority to allocate property rights for individual ownership of the tuna's and associated species. We do however wish to define the participants through the introduction of a permit moratorium

Species listed that are landed by Tuna NZ Inc members

Rays bream
Sth Bluefin Tuna
Northern bluefin tuna
Big eye tuna
Yellowfin tuna
Albacore tuna
Broadbill swordfish
Blue shark
Mako shark
Porbeagle shark

Tuna NZ Inc make comments on parts of the MFish correspondence;

  1. We acknowledge the consideration given by MFish to the complexities of the highly migratory species fisheries, reflected in the MFish timetable for possible introduction - 2004. We value this regard.
  2. Tuna NZ Inc and the participants differ in their opinion on the MFish view that the QMS ensures resource sustainability, too many of today's fishers would describe events contrary to this statement both in those fisheries where allocation has occurred and for those that are yet to be allocated. The prospect to build a catch history equally creates a 'race for fish'. Indeed contrary to the views that private ownership encourages responsibility the following statement signals the opposite, and is intensified given the number of nations competing for a stake holding in the tuna fishery;

    …the reason industry interests still have an urge to deplete the resource is just the same as for the destruction of a slow-growth forest. To liquidate the asset, freeing up funds for higher returns elsewhere. The difference of forests from ocean resources strengthens this incentive: Not only is the investment yield from conservation attenuated by a lack of control over fish in their fugitive state, but - unless shares for a species are totally held by a 'sole owner' - a partial ownership dulls the motive further for restoration or protecting the ocean's bounty of fish. The incentive for overfishing is intensified by ITQ's, and not reduced as claimed.
  3. The statement regarding the QMS as providing the best opportunity for more efficient utilisation considers very narrow parameters. Recognition is given to the work the recreational sector has undertaken to quantify the value of both private and commercial charter activity. An accurate measurement needs to be undertaken of some of the other hidden benefits to coastal communities, we consider this value to match and exceed the value of 'quota stock on the foreign exchange'.
  4. Range of species
    It should be noted that the species listed in the MFish correspondence does not cover the complete list of species that those members who surface longline land.

    There could be as many as 10 other species (eg) escolar, butterfly tuna, mahi mahi landed at varying times. Tuna NZ Inc have expressed a desire that ALL of the species interacted with remain a suite to prevent artificially created management issues (not able to fish in areas due to no authorisation to land one of the species). Closer investigation is required.
  5. Catch History Years
    Tonnages recorded use the 1999/00 landing records for tuna and the 1990/91 years for associated species. The difference in the effort of those targeting tuna has increased significantly over this 9 year period, the participants have also changed. We point out that there is an imbalance in the tonnages using different year landing records.

    The more logical approach would be to assess fishing capacity based upon current fishing activity, develop management measures to justify this level of fishing activity (meeting sustainability and utilisation ,scale of economies rationalisation) AND curb greater expansion via a permit moratorium on the issue of new and un utilised permits. This would bring about a 'settling' period and allay concerns from other stakeholders expressing concern about seabird by catch and the increasing take of broadbill swordfish (ie) an initial management measure has been taken).

    The extent of the fishery is reasonably well documented via observer coverage and there are very few 'hidden' fisheries related issues. We assume that MFish have considered that by reducing an allowable tonnage of species to be landed does not necessarily ensure good fisheries management. If the highly migratory species 'mix' is not adequately reflected by current landings, objectives of sustainability would be undermined, challenging fishers ability to meet their obligations under current national and international fisheries legislation.

    Tuna NZ understand the legislative responsibility to consider species associated to and dependant upon target species, and have concluded that in order to gain greater information species need to be dealt with in a more strategic manner with a level of priority attached to their 'interest'. These would then be progressed through the formal processes of the Fishery Assessment/ Aquatic Environment Working Groups. To ensure that this is 'affordable' a pre-assessment criteria would be undertaken to ensure that fishers were committed to the research undertaken.


Factors Influencing Fishers Thinking
The backlash against the Quota Management System has arisen over interference of the allocation process. Those that are more politically inclined and knowledgeable about the 'system' appear to have made greater gains at time of determining catch history. Certain individuals have been identified as influencing outcomes more than others, therefore the integrity of the system is open to challenge. The following comments highlight the global trend that demands legitimacy in fisheries management

Those that waver in their views do so after pressure has been applied by the threat of a venture that would see a SeaFIC Director lead a New Zealand Company to purse seine approximately half the STN TAC and have it farmed on in Australian waters. There are no guidelines available legally for this type of activity, however it would have huge implications to the sustainability of the entire tuna fishery in New Zealand's EEZ (Tuna NZ have corresponded separately with the Ministry about this matter).

It is widely assumed that legitimacy is conducive to compliance, that fishers will adhere to rules and regulations if they consider the management scheme as legitimate. It must be stressed however that legitimacy is not the only factor that may lead fishers to observe regulations. David Held's list of factors that may produce compliance is useful

  1. Coercion,
  2. Tradition
  3. Apathy
  4. Pragmatic acquiescence
  5. Instrumental acceptance
  6. Normative agreement
  7. Ideal normative agreement

Of these factors legitimacy applies only to the sixth and seventh, according to Held. Here the support is normatively based; citizens adhere to rules and regulations because they regard them as justified and reasonable. Alternatively, as indicated in 1-5, they could adhere to rules because they are forced to do so, because of "blind' routine, or as a result of strategic calculation respecting what may achieve the highest individual gain.

The Quota Management System is not seen as a legitimate form of Fisheries Management. The tuna and associated highly migratory species fishery in NZ is in URGENT NEED OF A MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK, allocating the resource amongst users is not management.

It is refreshing to read that MFish have stated that the QMS is about money, in the past it has been confused with fisheries management, we concur that the argument supporting the allocation of fisheries resources to individuals is founded in economics, this taken from the paper 'Quotas as a Fisheries Management Tool'

Before turning to the detailed workings of ITQs, it is useful to place ITQ's in their historical perspective. Development of property rights in fisheries (cf., Hanna, 1990, 1994a; Scott, 1986, 1989a, b), coupled with increasing concern over economic efficiency and growing reliance on the market for resource allocation, can be seen as one more step in the historical process of widening and deepening markets in economies (cf., Polanyi, 1944). Thus, ITQs are part of the current global expansion and integration of markets extended to fisheries.

Again we reiterate the highly migratory species fishery in New Zealand is in urgent need of MANAGEMENT. It is extremely questionable if there will be global agreement on the allocation of the commons to private property, how then is New Zealand able to claim ownership and allocate rights in perpetuity upon a resource that merely passes through its EEZ? The time is well overdue for the emphasis to shift to fisheries management and move away from the economic experiment that the rest of the world is NOT going to follow.

There is a suspicion that based on the decade + of experience since the QMS was introduced that the same pattern will emerge with fishers having a distinct disadvantage of being at sea and not participating in the establishment of the management framework. Often finding out too late that decisions have left little alternative than to exit. Those that have a well established resource base certainly are well equipped to compete because they have more expendable capital, this in itself sustains the inequality of rights ownership.

In sum, throughout history as societies are increasingly subjected to economic rationalisation, frequently governed by markets, that is, as economic forces become the predominant organising force of society, social structures and labor relations change, often undergoing substantial upheaval. This was certainly the case when medieval European commons were converted to private property as part of the development of a market economy (Barzel, 1989: Polyani, 1944; Hanna, 1990). Polanyi (1994, p. 35) notes. "Enclosures have appropriately been called a revolution of the rich against the poor. The lords and nobles were upsetting the social order, breaking down ancient law and custom, sometimes by means of violence, often by pressure and intimidation. They were literally robbing the poor of their share in the common."

It would appear little has changed over the course of history.

What assurance will the Ministry of Fisheries give that New Zealand tuna fishers will not see a repeat of the 'robbing of the poor' by the rich? It is not the QMS in itself that is the problem it is those that have used this system to their advantage at the expense of the less informed that have caused the backlash. There is no trust that equity and fairness will surround the allocation process.

If one delves into the history it is disappointing that the implementation process has been less than desirable. Is New Zealand in the process of compensating one lot of injustice whilst creating another? As public awareness about resource management increases perhaps the public of New Zealand will challenge the 'management system' that introduced individual rights over the commons. No doubt it will be too late, however relationships with Governing bodies will be called into question.

Tuna NZ Inc support coastal communities and their expanding involvement into sustainable resource management benefiting their communities. We support the devolution of governance to regions and see this as the long overdue mechanism to lend legitimacy to community involvement in resource management.

Others would advocate allocation before this fundamental shift occurred.

Tuna NZ question whether modification of the rights based system enabling coastal communities to require a greater level of accountability of management structures is a way to move forward. Such a model exists in the Pacific involving communities utilising the full value of migratory species recognizing the economic value to regions of commercial and recreational fishing whilst placing value on a healthy marine environment.


  • The quota management system in New Zealand is not seen as credible and legitimate by participants in the tuna fishery. The challenge to the credibility lies in the allocation process and historical interference and manipulation that fishers have experienced when participating in the allocation process of other fisheries.
  • The political driver to settle the Crowns Treaty obligations do not apply to the tuna fishery. Maori have not been excluded from participating in the tuna fishery, to this time the fishery retains its open access status. Tuna NZ Inc fully support the Crowns obligation to settle with Maori, however in this instance there is no basis for Maori to force the issue especially if this has the potential to undermine the long term management of the suite of migratory species.
  • Tuna and associated highly migratory species globally are being managed by controls on effort (restricting the numbers of participants initially). It is doubtful if individual property rights will ever apply widely, therefore it is misleading to issue property rights to New Zealand fishers when there are no guarantees that these allocations will hold fast under international scrutiny. Using the Australian southern bluefin tuna fishery as an example of introducing ITQ, it has created more problems than it solved and once the rights have been issued in perpetuity it will be difficult to determine compensation, or remove the expectation of ownership.
  • To introduce the prospect of quota where it was not previously perceived as suitable, introduces the mentality of a race to develop catch history. This attitude in an open access fishery runs contradictory to moderation in extraction activities. What signal are fishers to act upon - the Fisheries Act and MFish promotional material - or go for it - its all catch history. As a stakeholder group who have promoted moderation we would not wish to disadvantage our members but encourage them as the current rights holders to compete with the precedent being set by several individual SeaFIC Directors - purse seine to develop the largest catch history.
  • Further dialogue with the MFish and other 'rights holders' on matters raised in this submission would assist to develop a credible process that participants would be willing to participate in - we work to those ends.

Distribution List
Hon Pete Hodgson - Minister of Fisheries
Hon Doug Kidd
Hon Winston Peters - Tauranga
Damien O'Connor - West Coast Tasman
Jeanette Fitzsimons - Coromandel
Janet Mackey - East Coast
Te Ohu Kai Moana
Recreational Fishing Council
Big Game Fishing Council
Seafood Industry Council
Federation of Commercial Fishermen
Tuna Trollers Association
Tuna and Pelagic Ltd


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