New Zealand Fisheries: Healthy stock status should mean healthier TACC’s right?

cropped-yellow-fin-tuna-school3

Another story in the heralding improved fish stocks. This article (Fishermen back bigger quotas as key species recover) that was published today (04 April 2013) on stuff has a slightly different scope than the previous article by Pamela Mace (New Zealand Fisheries: Most fish stocks in a healthy state!) which announced stock status improvements; this article by Hamish McNichol looks at the expectations of fishermen given the current health of New Zealand fish stocks.

The article begins:

“Commercial fishers are keenly hoping that quotas will be scaled up on the back of New Zealand’s healthy fish stocks.”

However the article sloppily continues…

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ report [Ministry for Primary Industries Fisheries Assessment Plenary Reporton fish numbers [stock status or biomass estimates would be more accurate], which coincided with the midpoint of the fishing season, was [is.. its still April, May has yet to commence] due to be published at the end of May.”

“It provided detailed scientific analysis of where there was scope for additional quotas, as well as where fishing needed to be reeled in. Statistics last year showed only 0.5 per cent of landings of known fish stocks were below the “hard limit” level, where fishery closures should be considered.”

Am I being unduly critical of Mr McNichol’s journalism? It is just that the sub-text of this phrase seems to show surprise that there are less than half of one percent of New Zealand fisheries below the hard limit [which is 10% B0], furthermore from the same sub-text I get the impression that Mr McNichol expected New Zealand’s fisheries to be in more of a dire position? Why would this be?

I say this often… and really think I don’t say it enough. There are many people in this country; government fisheries managers, fisheries quota owners and fisheries scientists alike, who work ‘hammer and tongs’ to ensure New Zealand’s fisheries resources remain sustainable.

Fiskere trakker vod ved skagen (Fishermen pulling in a seine at Skagen). Painting by Michael Ancher (1849-1927) [see http://polarbearstale.blogspot.co.nz/]

Fiskere trakker vod ved skagen (Fishermen pulling in a seine at Skagen). Painting by Michael Ancher (1849-1927) [see http://polarbearstale.blogspot.co.nz/%5D

McNichol quoted Federation of Commercial Fishermen President Doug Sanders-Loder (who said he would not suggest a host of increases in total allowable commercial catch (TACC) levels, but he said there was certainly room to do so in key species):

We’ve got really good reason to believe that we could increase some TACCs and I think the mood of the industry is to ensure that you maintain a level of conservatism with that […] Across the inshore fishing industry there were a number of species for which the limit on fishing could be raised. Interestingly, as you go around the country the dynamics in respect of individual fisheries are so different that those fish will be different depending on the region you’re in.

McNichol acknowledged that the value of New Zealand’s fishing exports was in the vicinity of $1.2 billion in the nine months till September last year, and that  increases in quotas for some fish would provide great economic opportunity for fisheries. He quoted Sanders-Loder again:

To be able to convince the government that conservative increases in TACC, where they are clearly needed, can provide that economic opportunity is really important. It’s about us creating a healthy balance where you can feel comfortable that in a primary production industry you’ve got guys who are working for a living.”

Lastly McNichol references a statement from Ministry for Primary Industries’ principal adviser for fisheries science, Dr Pamela Mace, who said the industry often chose to implement its own quota, below TACC:

There wasn’t a hoki increase last year and that was actually [an] industry decision, but things are looking even better this year. “It’s not my call, I’m one of the scientists and I provide information for other people to make decisions in that regard.”

Mace is referring here to New Zealand hoki stocks which have shown six years of growth, even with TACCs of 120,000 tonnes in 2010-11 and 130,000 tonnes in 2011-12.

Hoki is in very good shape. And the indicators show that it will continue this way with astute responsive management that responds to fluctuations.

I do love a good news story like this.

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2 thoughts on “New Zealand Fisheries: Healthy stock status should mean healthier TACC’s right?

  1. Pingback: Sustainable management optimises value: The penny is dropping – and it is great to see! | Green Fish Blue Fish

  2. Pingback: Fisheries Management: A significant decrease in F is heralding higher abundance. | Green Fish Blue Fish

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