The future of commercial fishing in Aotearoa New Zealand
Ka pū te ruha, ka hao te rangatahi
This report was prepared after a request from the Prime Minister in late 2019. By drawing on local and international research and experience, and highlighting best practice examples, we aim to inspire innovative thinking and changes in fisheries management in 2040 and beyond.
The report aims to identify ways we can fill knowledge gaps, increase our understanding of the marine environment, and ultimately take a more holistic approach to fisheries management.
The evidence base for this report includes scientific and peer-reviewed literature, government, research, and technical reports, working papers, and personal communications. The report does not attempt to cost solutions nor to prioritise them at a detailed level.
The report outlines detailed recommendations in seven themes, which represent the conversations in our panel meetings.
We describe the challenging context in which commercial fishing takes place and lay out the many stressors faced by the marine environment. To help understand how to make progress in this contested area, we try to capture the complexities of commercial fishing in 2020.
Finally, we outline ideas and innovations that could help us fish smarter in the future, and end with an aspirational vision to challenge old thinking and encourage new.
Dive into the science of commercial fisheries with our full report. You can either download the PDF or scroll to explore the web version – both have the same content.
For those who would prefer to paddle their feet before taking the plunge, our shorter ‘Key messages’ is also available for download.
If you would like a hard copy or a pdf suitable for printing, please get in touch
The future of commercial fishing in Aotearoa New Zealand – Web version
Foreword from the PMCSA
Juliet reflects on our foray into commercial fisheries.
To support movement towards 100% sustainably managed oceans, reflecting our aspirations for commercial fishing in 2040. Alongside the recommendations we provide considerations for supporting their implementation.
Expert panel and reference group
Meet our expert panel, a diverse group convened by Juliet to guide the preparation of this report. Read our terms of reference and acknowledgements.
We briefly introduce the history and current state-of-play for commercial fishing and ocean research, highlight key work that we build upon, outline motivations for improving the sustainability of the commercial fishing industry, and describe the guiding frameworks and exemplars for this project. We also note the definitions for some key technical terms and note out-of-scope topics.
Challenges for the marine environment
To provide context, we describe the range of non-fishing stressors acting on the marine environment, including climate change, land-based impacts, diseases and invasive species, plastic pollution, and their cumulative effects. We then provide an evidence synthesis on how commercial fishing challenges the marine environment, focusing on the ecosystem.
The regulatory space is complex
We outline the complexity of the regulations in the marine domain and demonstrate the resulting challenges at local, national, and international levels.
Commercial fisheries in 2020
We provide a brief overview of the key tools used for fisheries management in Aotearoa New Zealand, synthesise the evidence on the state of our commercially fished stocks, highlighting data and information gaps as well as contested information, and describe various initiatives underway in the sector.
A future focus: Science, technology and innovation
We take a future focus and introduce innovative ideas and scientific solutions to address sustainability issues in the commercial fishing sector.
Vision: Imagining a different future for fishing in Aotearoa in 2040
We present an imagined future – not a prediction, but a provocation to envisage a different way of harvesting from our oceans, which draws on some exciting research ideas.
Explore the variety of case studies showcasing new technology, research initiatives and innovative approaches to marine management.
Glossary and appendices
A glossary of te reo Māori terms, technical terms and abbreviations used throughout the report. Appendices to accompany the main report content.
A collection of useful links to key reports, references and resources.
Science and commercial fisheries
A documentary by independent filmmaker Shirley Horrocks, featuring panel members and other scientists.
This is part of Shirley’s ‘Science &’ series documenting the work of the OPMCSA. See more of Shirley’s films
Last updated: 22 March 2021
In an opinion piece, Peter Davis discusses our report 'The future of commercial fishing in Aotearoa New Zealand'.
Columnist Rod Oram discusses fisheries policy and the recommendations of our report 'The future of commercial fishing'.
The Minister for Oceans and Fisheries David Parker talked to Nine to Noon on RNZ about recently announced changes to fisheries management, referencing our report on commercial fisheries.
A new report on commercial fisheries is calling for a more holistic approach to managing and assessing the health of the marine ecosystem, reports James Fyfe for Newshub.
The OPMCSA's new report provides advice to government on how science and innovation can improve the sustainability of commercial fisheries. Juliet reflects on our deep dive into the world of commercial fishing.
This month we are starting work on an exciting new project in the office looking at how science can contribute to keeping Aotearoa New Zealand at the leading edge of global fisheries management.