Tuna Initial Position Paper
is the Ministry of Fisheries management proposal for yellowfin tuna
as presented in the Initial Position Paper (IPP).
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Yellowfin tuna IPP Annex
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Yellowfin tuna Management
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Introduction into the QMS
- Yellowfin tuna has been gazetted for introduction into the QMS
on 1 October 2004. The Quota Management Area for yellowfin tuna,
shown in Figure 1, includes all New Zealand fisheries waters (FMAs
1-10). The fishing year for yellowfin tuna will be from 1 October
to 30 September in the following year. The total allowable commercial
catch (TACC) and annual catch entitlement (ACE) are to be expressed
in terms of kilograms greenweight.
Figure 1: Quota Management Areas
for yellowfin tuna
Issues to be considered
- Key issues to be considered in relation to decisions on sustainability
measures and other management controls for yellowfin tuna are
- Yellowfin tuna is a highly migratory species and the yellowfin
tuna found in New Zealand fisheries waters are part of a Pacific
- International assessments suggest that the yellowfin tuna in
the equatorial Pacific is approaching an overfished state, in
part because of the high proportions of juveniles caught in these
- Yellowfin tuna is taken in New Zealand fisheries waters primarily
as a bycatch of tuna longlining for other large tuna species,
in particular bigeye tuna.
- There is some potential for expansion of the fishery for yellowfin
tuna within New Zealand fisheries waters based on the levels of
catch historically taken by foreign licensed fleets and the limited
fishing to date by the domestic fleet within the Kermadec FMA.
- There are no estimates of non-commercial catch for yellowfin
- While yellowfin tuna is known as a prized gamefish species for
the recreational sector it is not known as a species of particular
significance for customary Mäori fishing.
- There is potential for spatial conflict between commercial and
of Management Options
- It is proposed to add yellowfin tuna to the Third Schedule and
set a TAC pursuant to s14 of the 1996 Act.
- The proposed options for a TAC allowances, TACC and other management
measures for yellowfin tuna are as follows:
Table 1: Proposed TAC, TACC, and allowances
for yellowfin tuna, YFN 1 (tonnes).
Other sources of
|YFN 1 #
options based on best annual catch in the most recent five years
plus 25% OR plus 50% with the addition of allowances.
# MFish preferred option
- It is further proposed to:
- Amend reporting regulations to take account of the decision
to set a single QMA for yellowfin tuna;
- Set a deemed value of $7.92 for yellowfin tuna; and
- Apply differential deemed values.
allowances and TACCs
- Section 14 of the 1996 Act provides an exception to setting
a TAC based on an assessment of MSY where the Minister is satisfied
that the purpose of the Act would be better achieved by setting
a TAC otherwise than in accordance with s13(2). It is not possible
to estimate MSY for the part of the yellowfin tuna stock that
is found within New Zealand fisheries waters.
- It is proposed that TAC for yellowfin tuna is set pursuant to
s14 of the 1996 Act. While any TAC must be set in a way that ensures
use of the stock is sustainable, there is no requirement under
s14 to take into account or be guided by the need to manage in
accordance with MSY. A TAC set under s 14 of the Act must be set
in a way that better achieves the purpose of the 1996 Act. MFish
believes that a TAC set under the provisions of s14 of the 1996
Act can better provide for utilisation (developing fisheries to
enable people to provide for their social, economic and cultural
wellbeing) for stocks whose range extends beyond the bounds of
New Zealand fisheries waters while ensuring sustainability.
- Further s14 provides for an in-season review of the TAC to take
advantage of available yield beyond any pre-determined target
for proposed TACs
- In the absence of estimates of sustainable catch for yellowfin
tuna a TAC is proposed that is based on estimates of current utilisation
and an evaluation of the potential for expansion of the fishery.
This evaluation provides a basis for assessing the sustainability
of proposed catch limits.
- The best annual reported catch of yellowfin tuna in recent years
is 175 tonnes. Comment from fishers indicates that catches of
yellowfin tuna may have been constrained as fishers spend a proportion
of their time within a fishing year competing for southern bluefin
tuna. The fishery for southern bluefin tuna is primarily in more
southern waters where a bycatch of yellowfin tuna is less likely.
The potential of the bigeye target fishery and associated bycatch
of yellowfin tuna within New Zealand fisheries waters has not
been fully explored. This is particularly the case in the Kermadec
FMA where there has been little fishing by domestic vessels.
- International assessments suggest that there are sustainability
concerns in relation to fishing for this species in the equatorial
Pacific region. New Zealand has an obligation to exercise reasonable
restraint in the development of its fisheries arising from resolutions
of the Preparatory Conference for the Commission for the Conservation
of Highly Migratory Stocks in the Central and Western Pacific.
In this context MFish does not consider that it is unreasonable
to provide for expansion in the level of the yellowfin tuna fisheries
within New Zealand coastal waters. The New Zealand catch of yellowfin
tuna is less than 0.05% of the Pacific wide catch (compare 175
tonnes with 300-400,000 tonnes).
- Policy guidelines suggest that the opportunity for development
and the extent of utilisation provided for needs to be assessed
on a stock-by-stock basis having regard to risk based on the following
- Sustainability to the stock, for yellowfin
tuna is considered a moderate risk. Sustainability concerns relate
to the equatorial Pacific and the New Zealand fishery is a small
proportion of the catch for the stock as a whole (less than 0.05%).
- Biology of the stock and potential for local depletion,
while local depletion is indicated in the equatorial Pacific it
is associated with intensive purse seine fishing effort. There
is no local depletion apparent in more temperate regions of the
- Impacts of fishing on the aquatic environment including
bycatch, for yellowfin tuna this is a factor of moderate
risk. Yellowfin tuna is taken in conjunction with other large
tuna species including southern bluefin tuna and any increase
in catch creates some risk that southern bluefin tuna may be caught
over and above the catch limit set for this species. The current
yellowfin tuna fishery is as a bycatch of the bigeye tuna target
fishery. A prospective catch limit is also proposed for bigeye
tuna (50% over and above the best recent reported catch) and no
mismatch is predicted with the catch limits proposed for yellowfin
- There are unquantified risks to associated and dependent species
associated with the method of tuna longlining which may require
- Socio economic and cultural issues, with regard
to yellowfin tuna there are clear benefits from increased revenue
to the fishery if an expansion in catch can be realised and sustained.
There are, however, areas of the fishery (the eastern Bay of Plenty
is the most prominent example) where there is likely to be an
interaction between commercial and non-commercial fishing unless
this is managed. This suggests that the risks associated with
an expansion in catch are shared with the fishing interests of
other sectors. This is a relevant consideration with respect to
the potential for further development of the yellowfin fishery
and may require inter-sectoral spatial agreements if further expansion
in commercial fishing is to occur.
- Anecdotal information on abundance and size of likely
habitat in the management area, the Kermadec FMA is an
area that has only be lightly fished for yellowfin tuna by domestic
fishers. Anecdote and historical foreign licensed catch suggest
this area provides expansion potential for the fishery.
- On balance the risks associated with an increase in catch of
yellowfin tuna are considered to be low to moderate and within
manageable bounds. MFish therefore proposes to set a prospective
TAC for yellowfin tuna. Two options (based on arbitrary increases
over and above the best recent years reported catch) are proposed:
- Option 1: 265 tonnes
- Option 2: 313 tonnes
- The choice of options is dependent on the level of risk associated
with the development of the fishery. MFish has not proposed options
higher than a fifty percent increase on the best years catch until
more is known about the distribution of yellowfin tuna in New
Zealand fisheries waters and the potential interactions with other
target and non-target species. However, MFish considers that the
risks associated with the higher of the TAC options proposed are
manageable and provide more opportunity for the development of
what is considered to be an under-utilised fishery. The MFish
initial preference is for a TAC of 313 tonnes.
- MFish notes that there is provision under section 14 for an
in season increase in TAC if the abundance of yellowfin tuna in
any fishing year suggests that more may be taken. Any in season
increase is given effect through the creation of ACE pursuant
to s 68 of the 1996 Act.
- Further, the annual TAC and TACC are subject to review based
on the performance of the fishery. If the TAC proves to be limiting
the development of the fishery (eg, it is consistently fully caught)
then there is an annual opportunity to consider proposals for
a TAC increase.
allowances and TACC
and recreational allowances
are no estimates of non-commercial catch of yellowfin tuna available.
The surface schooling behaviour of this species makes yellowfin
tuna the most accessible of the large tuna species to the non-commercial
availability of yellowfin to the recreational sector varies
widely from year to year . In some years yellowfin is taken
in significant numbers by the recreational sector in areas such
as the eastern Bay of Plenty. An allowance of 30 tonnes for
recreational fishing is therefore proposed.
guidelines suggest that, in the absence of estimates of customary
catch, an allowance for customary harvest based on a proportion
of the recreational allowance should be made. Yellowfin tuna
is known as a customary catch but is not known as a species
of particular significance to Maori. An allowance for customary
Mäori fishing of 15 tonnes (50% of the recreational allowance)
is therefore proposed.
other sources of mortality
information on the level of discarding and loss of yellowfin
tuna is available from the 1990s. A loss of 0.1% and discarding
of 10.1% of the catch were estimated for yellowfin tuna. A proportion
of the fish were discarded as a result of damage (18%) but the
primary reason for discarding was small size. In the absence
of specific estimates for yellowfin tuna an allowance of 2%
of the TACC is proposed for other sources of mortality for fish
that are lost before landing on board the vessel.
are proposed based on current utilisation increased to provide
for development opportunity in the fishery. Options are an increase
of 25% over and above the best annual reported commercial landings
over the most recent five years (175 tonnes) or an increase
of 50% over and above the best annual reported commercial landings.
1: 219 tonnes
2: 263 tonnes
assess that the level of risk associated with the higher TAC
option proposed is manageable and the adoption of this option
and associated TACC (263 tonnes) is the MFish preferred initial
position because it provides more opportunity for utilisation
within an acceptable level of risk to sustainability of catches
within New Zealand fisheries waters.
management measures proposed for yellowfin tuna at this time
are to include yellowfin tuna on the Third Schedule of the 1996
Act by Order in Council, to make consequential amendment to
reporting regulations and to set a deemed value.
yellowfin tuna on the Third Schedule
proposes that yellowfin tuna be added to the Third Schedule
of the 1996 Act.
tuna is a highly migratory species caught in New Zealand waters
but part of a stock that includes the entire South Pacific.
In this context it is not possible to estimate MSY for that
part of the stock that is found within New Zealand fisheries
waters. One of the criteria for inclusion of a stock on the
Third Schedule is therefore satisfied.
14 of the Act requires that species managed under s 14 be listed
on the Third Schedule of the 1996 Act by Order in Council. Section
14 of the 1996 Act provides for the setting of an alternative
TAC if the purpose of the Act is better achieved than by setting
a TAC pursuant to s13(2).
amendment to regulations
a consequence of the introduction of yellowfin tuna into the
QMS, MFish proposes to amend the Fisheries (Reporting) Regulations
2001 to ensure the effective and efficient operation of the
QMS. Details of the proposed amendments are set out in a separate
generic section of this document.
and overfishing thresholds
separate section of this document sets out generic information
on the setting of interim and annual deemed values.
the high value of yellowfin tuna, MFish considers that the best
fit for this species is the category of all other stocks in
part because it is taken primarily as a bycatch. The factor
of the port price applied to all other species is 75%. The port
price for yellowfin tuna is $10.56. An annual deemed value of
$7.92 is therefore proposed. It is proposed that differential
deemed values apply. Catches exceeding 20% of ACE would attract
a proportionally higher deemed value.
does not propose to set an overfishing threshold for yellowfin
tuna, unless monitoring of catch against the TACC suggest that
this is required in the future.
management options presented for yellowfin tuna seek to better
achieve the purpose of the 1996 Act (s14) by providing opportunity
for further unitisation (development) within what should be
a sustainable catch of this species within New Zealand fisheries
waters balanced against an obligation to exercise reasonable
restraint in the development of the fishery.
proposals are considered to be consistent with New Zealand’s
international obligations in relation to fishing and the provisions
of the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act
fishery for yellowfin tuna is as a bycatch of targeting other
more abundant tuna species such as bigeye and southern bluefin
tuna. A wide range of fish species are taken as bycatch of surface
longline fishing. Catch levels vary but many of these species
are only rarely taken. The main fish bycatch species associated
with the surface longline fishery within New Zealand fisheries
waters are to be introduced into the QMS. The QMS will provide
the mechanisms for sustainability actions as required.
are however a suite of species that are unlikely to enter the
QMS in the short term. Our knowledge of these species is limited.
There is a risk that the tuna longline fishery will affect the
long-term viability of these species. Tuna longline fisheries
also occasionally catch fur seals, cetaceans and turtles within
New Zealand fisheries waters. There are therefore potential
impacts on associated and dependent species, biodiversity and
protected species that will require monitoring and possibly
future management action. The entry of yellowfin tuna into the
QMS will improve our ability to address these issues by requiring
the incorporation of new information as it comes to hand in
the process of determining catch limits for the fishery (ss
9(a), (b), and (c)).
are known effects of tuna longline fishing on the aquatic environment
(seabirds) but steps have been and continue to be taken to mitigate
these risks (refer Annex One
tuna is not known to be a highly variable stock. The availability
of yellowfin tuna within parts of New Zealand fisheries waters
is known to vary on an annual basis. Other areas such as the
Kermadec FMA are thought to contain yellowfin tuna that are
semi-resident in the area (s 11(1)(c)).
longlining is not known to pose a risk to benthic habitat of
particular significance to fisheries management. The pelagic
habitat, however, and any associate risks of fishing are poorly
understood (s 9(c)).
setting any sustainability measure, the Minister must have regard
to any provisions of any regional policy statement, regional
plan, or proposed regional plan under the Resource Management
Act 1991, and any management strategy or management plan under
the Conservation Act 1987 that applies to the coastal marine
area and is considered to be relevant by the Minister. MFish
is not aware of any provisions in any strategy or planning document
under the Resource Management Act or Conservation Act that are
relevant to the setting of sustainability measures for yellowfin
tuna (ss 11(2)(a) and (b)).
before setting any sustainability measure relevant to the Hauraki
Gulf (eg, a TAC for the yellowfin tuna), the Minister must have
regard to s7 and s8 of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act 2000
Act. The Hauraki Gulf is defined in that Act to include all
coastal waters and offshore islands from near Te Arai Point
offshore to the Moko Hinau Islands, and south to Homunga Point
(north of Waihi Beach). This Act’s objectives are to protect
and maintain the natural resources of the Hauraki Gulf as a
matter of national importance. Yellowfin tuna may occur in parts
of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. MFish considers that the setting
of sustainability measures for yellowfin tuna will better meet
the purpose of the Act, and ensure that the range of values
associated with the use of the yellowfin tuna resource are enhanced
for the people and communities in the area (s 11(2)(c)).
setting any sustainability measure, the Minister must also take
into account any conservation services or fisheries services,
any relevant fisheries plan approved under the Act, and any
decisions not to require conservation services or fisheries
services. There are no relevant fisheries plans approved that
would have any bearing on the setting of a TAC for yellowfin
tuna. Conservation and fisheries services apply to tuna fisheries
generally in order to assess and monitor the impacts of fishing
on non target fish and non-fish species. There have been no
decisions not to require fisheries or conservation services
for yellowfin tuna (s 11(2A)).
nature of the fishery and the interests of the respective fishing
sectors have been considered in setting the TACC and allowances
for recreational and customary interests and all other mortality
to the stock caused by fishing. While mataitai reserves exist
within YFN 1 the values of the mätaitai will not be compromised
as yellowfin tuna are part of an oceanic stock. No area has
been closed or fishing method restricted for customary fishing
purposes in YFN 1 that would affect the fishery. No restrictions
have been placed on fishing in any area within the YFN 1 for
recreational interests (ss 21(4) and (5)).
information used to develop proposals for yellowfin tuna relies
on overseas assessments of the stock (which are uncertain) and
information from commercial catches, which is limited with respect
to evaluating levels of sustainable harvest. MFish notes however
that uncertainty in information is not a reason for postponing
or failing to take any measure to achieve the purpose of the
1996 Act (s10).
- MFish recommends that the Minister:
- Agrees that the purpose of the 1996 Act is
better achieved by setting a TAC for yellowfin tuna otherwise
than in accordance with s13(2)
- Agrees to add yellowfin tuna to the Third Schedule
and set a TAC pursuant to s 14 of the 1996 Act.
- Agrees to set a TAC for yellowfin tuna of 313
tonnes and within this set:
- A customary allowance of 15 tonnes;
- A recreational allowance of 30 tonnes;
- An allowance of 5 tonnes for other sources of fishing mortality;
- A TACC of 263 tonnes.
- Agrees to set a deemed value for yellowfin
tuna of $ 7.92 /kg
- Agrees that differential deemed values apply
- Agrees to consequential amendments to the Fisheries