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Labour's Fisheries Policy

Fisheries Policy


Our fisheries are very important to New Zealanders economically, socially, culturally and environmentally. New Zealand has the fourth largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the world, and fishing is a major activity within it. The commercial seafood industry, including aquaculture, is New Zealand’s fifth largest export earner.

Labour’s fisheries policy aims to balance the competing priorities of commercial, recreational, and customary users, and to add sustainable value to our fisheries, while also providing for improved environmental performance.

New Zealanders can be proud of our wonderful and unique marine environment. We will continue to encourage growth and innovation within our fishing industry. We will continue to ensure fair and sustainable access to our fisheries resources for all. We will encourage all New Zealanders to work together to protect our fisheries for future generations.

Labour’s Achievements

Labour has:

• Substantially completed the introduction of commercially important aquatic species to the QMS, and extended coverage of the QMS to highly migratory species such as tuna beyond New Zealand waters.

• Established a recreational fishing ministerial advisory panel to advise on strategic issues affecting recreational fishers, and begun setting up a network of regional recreational fishing forums to provide recreational fishers with knowledge of and input into fisheries management processes.

• Enacted the Maori Fisheries Act 2004 and settled Maori commercial aquaculture interests, providing the platform for allocation to iwi of fisheries and aquaculture assets.

• Focused on stopping the illegal harvest and trade (especially export) of high value species such as paua and rock lobster, including the creation of a covert special tactics team within fisheries compliance.

• Introduced the Seafood Innovation Initiative under the Growth and Innovation Framework (GIF), and invested in innovation to optimise the current seafood harvest by developing value added seafood and marine products for consumer markets.

• Enacted a new legislative framework for aquaculture, to provide a much improved process for coastal space allocation, and supported the New Zealand Aquaculture Council's development of a national sector strategy for aquaculture.

• Begun appointing relationship managers (Pou Honunga), and extension officers, to assist hapu and iwi in undertaking their role in fisheries management, and begun the establishment of regionally based iwi forums. • Approved the Strategy for Managing the Environmental Effects of Fishing (SMEEF).

• Through a range of initiatives agreed with other nations, committed to combating destructive fishing practices and illegal, unregulated or unreported (IUU) fishing in high seas and shared fisheries.

• Introduced a National Plan of Action (NPOA) to reduce seabird bycatch, and various measures to reduce marine mammal bycatch.

• Developed the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Policy , which provides for enhanced marine biodiversity protection.

• Enacted the Fiordland (Te Moana o Atawhewua) Marine Management Act 2005, to formalise the sustainable uses of the area agreed to by all stakeholders, including commercial and recreational fishers.

Labour's Priorities for the next term

Showing government leadership:

During our next term in government, Labour will:

• Develop an integrated and comprehensive framework for managing the marine environment, including the interface between land and sea, by completing and implementing an Oceans Policy.

• Retain Crown authority over fisheries management, enforcement and relevant research, while developing a more co-operative relationship with commercial and recreational fishers, tangata whenua and other stakeholders.

• Maintain increased investment in marine research, to better understand the marine environment and human-induced impacts on it, and how to manage it sustainably.

• Review the fisheries plan provisions in the Fisheries Act to ensure that the Ministry of Fisheries has a lead role in their development, with input from all stakeholders and the public.

• Continue to raise public awareness of the social, cultural and economic value of our fisheries.

Making fisheries sustainable:

During our next term in government, Labour will:

• Adopt a more comprehensive and pro-active approach to managing the environmental effects of fishing and do so on an ecosystem basis.

• Ensure that the environmental principles of the Fisheries Act are embedded throughout fisheries management.

• Ensure that the Fisheries Act makes it clear that sustaining non-harvest uses and values of fish must be part of fisheries management.

• Ensure that the onus of proof is on fishers to show that environmental impacts from their activities can be avoided or minimised.

• Assess the appropriateness of, and the risks around, the use of maximum sustainable yield (MSY – the level of fish stock that will allow maximum catch without compromising sustainability), with a view to a more precautionary approach being taken.

• Implement the SMEEF, including developing robust ecosystem-based environmental performance and assessment standards.

• Increase observer coverage on fishing vessels where there is a need for better compliance, or where information gaps on environmental effects hamper sustainable fishing, and further develop the application of electronic monitoring to smaller vessels.

• Continue to improve enforcement effort, by, for example, providing more capacity to investigate complex offending, facilitating significant inter-agency cooperation, and increasing maritime and aerial patrolling.

• Support a reconfigured honorary fisheries officer network.

• Support Ministry of Fisheries advocacy under the Resource Management Act 1991 to protect inshore fisheries threatened by sedimentation and pollution from the land.

Facilitating recreational activity:

During our next term in government, Labour will:

• Ensure that recreational use of fisheries is provided for.

• Improve information on the nature and extent of recreational fishers’ engagement in significant recreational fisheries.

• Enhance the quality of recreational fishing, including where appropriate, managing some recreational species above, or significantly above, MSY (the level of fish stock that will allow maximum catch without compromising sustainability).

• Ensure that bag limits are appropriate for ensuring sustainability.

• Build and strengthen the regional recreational fishing forums.

• Work with the regional forums, the recreational fishing ministerial advisory panel, and all stakeholders in advancing the above aims.

• Provide for New Zealanders to use the sea for non-harvest purposes, including swimming, boating, yachting, surfing and diving, or for passive enjoyment.

Adding value to commercial fisheries:

During our next term in government, Labour will:

• Work with industry to ensure that continued growth and innovation in the seafood sector is achieved within the GIF framework and to improve the sustainable economic performance of the sector, with emphasis on value-added processing for the benefit of New Zealanders.

• Work with stakeholders to make fisheries management processes more efficient and effective, including fisheries research and stock assessment, cost recovery rules, the setting and use of deemed values, and the operation of the annual catch entitlement market.

• Reduce industry compliance costs by revoking unnecessary fisheries regulations through the fisheries plan process.

• Encourage maximum participation by New Zealanders in our fisheries and seafood processing, at New Zealand rates of pay and conditions of work.

• Monitor working and living conditions on fishing vessels to ensure that they are up to reasonable New Zealand standards.

• Complete the introduction of commercially important aquatic species to the QMS.

• Work with industry, local government and other stakeholders to implement the aquaculture reforms and help the aquaculture industry reach its potential in an environmentally sustainable way consistent with ecosystem-based management.

• Work with Te Ohu Kai Moana Trustee Ltd (TOKM) and local government to implement the Maori aquaculture settlement.

Protecting our ocean resources:

During our next term in government, Labour will:

• Identify, through regional consultative processes under the MPA Policy, priority areas for biodiversity protection in marine reserves and other marine protected areas, with the aim of having 10 percent of New Zealand’s marine environment (including the EEZ) with some form of protection by 2010.

• Require sustained reductions in fisheries bycatch of marine mammals and seabirds (e.g. New Zealand sea lion, Maui’s Dolphin and South Island Hector’s Dolphin, and various species of albatross and petrel), including by mandatory targets and mitigation measures.

• Support the further development of marine mammal sanctuaries to protect threatened marine mammals.

• Increase protection for spawning fish and other critical life cycle stages in order to sustain fish populations.

• Develop and implement a national plan of action to prevent the indiscriminate taking of sharks.

• Ban live shark finning in New Zealand waters, and implement the ban by approved measures, or otherwise require sharks taken to be landed with bodies intact.

Taking initiatives internationally:

During our next term in government, Labour will:

• Promote the development of effective regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) under UNCLOS, including a RFMO for the Tasman Sea and South Pacific, to achieve sustainable ecosystem-based management of oceans and fisheries and protection of the marine environment.

• Where effective RFMOs or other appropriate organisations do not exist, urge the United Nations General Assembly to move against destructive fishing practices, including the unacceptable impacts of bottom trawling.

• Take strong action to combat IUU fishing in high seas and shared fisheries, and promote the early ratification of the UN Implementation Agreement (Straddling Stocks) and the FAO Compliance Agreement by all countries.

• Promote marine reserves and other marine protected areas for the high seas through appropriate international forums and arrangements.

• Work to reduce the environmental pressures caused by subsidies that promote overcapacity and over-exploitation, and to remove trade barriers to sustainably produced seafood products.

• Advocate the development of a network of marine reserves and other marine protected areas around Antarctica, especially in the Ross Sea, and the restriction of fishing activity to levels appropriate for the sensitive nature of the Antarctic environment and its important intrinsic and wilderness values.

Upholding customary rights:

During our next term in government, Labour will:

• Continue the implementation of Maori customary fishing regulations.

• Facilitate the development of taiapure and mataitai reserves to enhance the sustainability of kai moana and to complement marine reserves.

• Complete and build upon the appointment of relationship managers (Pou Honanga) and extension officers around the country, to assist hapu and iwi in undertaking their role in fisheries management.

• Provide mediation services to enable hapu and iwi to resolve disputes over the application of the customary fishing regulations and the appointment of kaitiaki.

• Develop further protocols with iwi through Treaty of Waitangi settlement negotiations, setting out how the iwi and the Ministry of Fisheries will interact in fisheries management processes within their rohe.

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