These recommendations aim to support movement towards 100% sustainably managed oceans, reflecting our aspirations for commercial fishing in 2040. They were developed through a consensus process with our panel with open sharing of a wide range of views. Alongside the recommendations we provide considerations for supporting their implementation.
Not every panel member fully supports each individual recommendation and consideration but, taken together, the recommendations are a fair representation of the collective view of the group.
The first three themes of the recommendations acknowledge that our Terms of Reference were limited to one part of the marine environment only – commercial fisheries – but that there are issues to solve beyond our narrow scope.
These themes cover:
- Theme 1: Strengthened leadership
- Theme 2: A bold Oceans Strategic Action Plan
- Theme 3: Te ao Māori | A connected worldview in 2040 and beyond
The remaining themes focus on commercial fisheries and can be achieved within the Fisheries Act 1996 – facilitating urgent action.
- Theme 4: A refined set of regulatory tools
- Theme 5: A data platform that enables informed commercial and environmental decision making
- Theme 6: An ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM) is embraced within the current regulatory framework, including the Fisheries Act 1996
- Theme 7: Research and innovation are maximised
Theme 1: Strengthened leadership
- We welcome the appointment of an Oceans and Fisheries Minister and Under-Secretary to ensure cohesive oversight of all marine activities within Aotearoa New Zealand’s territorial sea and EEZ. This will allow holistic management of the marine domain and productive, sustainable fisheries.
- The Oceans and Fisheries Minister might lead development of an Oceans Strategic Action Plan to provide ongoing strategic oversight for the marine domain (see Theme 2).
- The Oceans and Fisheries Minister might facilitate multi-party conversations to build a culture of trust and collaboration in the marine domain, taking a Treaty-based approach that is inclusive of all Māori and non-Māori (essential for Theme 2).
- As a first step, the Oceans and Fisheries Minister might prioritise immediate evidence-informed actions to protect the marine environment within the provisions of the Fisheries Act 1996 (see Theme 2 and Theme 6).
- All actions relating to Theme 1 must reflect the special relationship between the Crown and Māori, particularly relating to Article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi, the Māori Fisheries Settlement 1992, and section 5 of the Fisheries Act 1996.
- The Oceans and Fisheries Under‑Secretary can support co-partnership with iwi, respecting rights embodied in the Treaty of Waitangi, the Māori Fisheries Settlement 1992 and section 5 of the Fisheries Act 1996.
- The Oceans and Fisheries Minister might work collaboratively with other key Ministers in the marine domain in developing an Oceans Strategic Action Plan to allow synthesis and prioritisation of varied responsibilities within a cohesive framework, including:
- Minister of Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti
- Minister for Māori Development
- Minister of Conservation
- Minister for the Environment
- Minister of Research, Science and Innovation.
- The Oceans and Fisheries Minister might work collaboratively with other relevant Ministers, including:
- Minister for Climate Change
- Minister of Local Government
- Minister for Land Information
- Minister for Biosecurity
- Minister of Transport
- Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Minister of Energy and Resources
- Minister of Statistics
- Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth
- Minister of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
- Minister for Food Safety.
Theme 2: A bold Oceans Strategic Action Plan
- Develop a bold Oceans Strategic Action Plan for 2040 to protect and manage Aotearoa New Zealand’s territorial sea and EEZ, with a clear integrative framework to prioritise, coordinate, implement and measure outcomes to achieve 100% sustainably managed oceans.
The panel recognised that such a plan is beyond its Terms of Reference. The following recommendations pertain to the commercial fisheries aspects of such a plan and could be enacted ahead of a larger look at the oceans:
- Through a Treaty-based and multi-stakeholder approach, develop an evidence-informed action plan that agrees upon the definition and role of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management in Aotearoa New Zealand and how it can be achieved within the context of the Quota Management System (QMS) and a changing climate (see Theme 6).
- Provide a clear framework for annual reporting, decision making, future planning, and lead agency responsibility to coordinate all efforts in this space, including providing clarity around the roles of local and central government, Treaty partners and kaitiaki in fisheries and biodiversity management (see Theme 6).
- Set an expectation that any fisheries-related plans, when created or revised, must specify how they will progress the objectives of the Oceans Strategic Action Plan and demonstrate progress against this in annual review reports (see Theme 6).
- Include actions to support the move from volume to value in commercial fisheries through full product utilisation and a premium brand associated with Aotearoa New Zealand (see Theme 7).
- Clearly prioritise actions across a multi-year programme, starting with those that can be achieved in the short term in an evidence-informed manner to protect the marine environment within the provisions of the Fisheries Act 1996 (see Theme 6).
- Develop the shared Oceans Strategic Action Plan through a co-design process with iwi, respecting rights embodied in the Treaty of Waitangi, the Māori Fisheries Settlement 1992 and section 5 of the Fisheries Act 1996.
- Review the detailed thinking in previous iterations of Oceans Policy development.
- Consider implementing international targets, including those related to percentage coverage of coastal and marine protection, within Aotearoa New Zealand’s context, particularly relating to Article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi and the Māori Fisheries Settlement 1992.
- Facilitate discussions between the regulator and other central government agencies, local government, iwi, industry, environmental organisations, and marine guardians to build a shared understanding of the most effective way to manage the marine domain through the Oceans Strategic Action Plan.
- Informed by multi-stakeholder discussions, the Oceans Strategic Action Plan might:
- Operationalise increased application of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (see Theme 6).
- Be based on a true co-partnership model and a dual framework of mātauranga Māori and western science (see Theme 3).
- Enable tangata whenua to exercise kaitiakitanga.
- Enable local knowledge and connections to be maximised (see Theme 5.h and Theme 7).
- Reflect the level of national consistency that is desirable, while acknowledging local context, including the willingness and capacity of stakeholders to undertake management actions.
- Explicitly address tensions and conflicts in the objectives of stakeholders and regulators in the marine domain.
- Explicitly address environmental decline to achieve ecosystem resilience in the marine domain (see Theme 3).
- Address environmental impacts of fishing (see Theme 6.f and Theme 6.g).
- Aim to reinvigorate Aotearoa New Zealand’s global reputation for innovative and effective fisheries management.
- Consider international exemplars of strong Indigenous leadership in fisheries management (see Theme 3).
- Uphold and build on Aotearoa New Zealand’s international obligations and commitments.
- Consider how trade agreements might facilitate more sustainable commercial fisheries.
- Improve consistency across the marine domain by: harmonising discrepant definitions; agreeing high-level principles; defining environmental outcomes and targets, with an environmental bottom line and clear aspirations.
- Be implemented through use of all regulatory and non-regulatory levers necessary (see Theme 3, Theme 4 and Theme 6).
- Define the relationships between the different legislative requirements and strategic visions across Ministries, Departments and Agencies to provide clarity to stakeholders, including but not limited to the:
- Fisheries Act 1996
- Marine Reserves Act 1971
- Resource Management Act 1991
- Wildlife Act 1953
- Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978
- Maritime Transport Act 1994
- Te Mana o te Taiao – Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy 2020, especially objective 12.
- Prosperity Sustainability Protection: Strategic Plan 2019, Ministry for Primary Industries
- Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012.
- Animal Welfare Act 1999.
- Work collaboratively with other ministries when developing the Oceans Strategic Action Plan, feeding into and responding to ongoing relevant work, for example:
- The 2020 review of the Resource Management Act 1991.
- The reform of marine protected area (MPA) legislation reform, including how it relates to Section 9 of the Fisheries Act 1996.
- Recent case law (such as Motiti Protection Area decisions of 2019).
Theme 3: Te ao Māori | A connected worldview in 2040 and beyond
- Building on the other themes, acknowledge that successful application of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management must take a holistic, long-term approach that considers future generations.
- Explicitly address cumulative effects and the interconnected nature of ecosystems and mitigate other stressors on fisheries, beyond commercial fishing including:
- Land-based impacts, especially sediment from forestry and land-use changes
- Climate change
- Disease and invasive species
- Recreational fishing
- Population pressure and growing population
- Mining and the energy sector.
- Support the wellbeing of the people who fish to ensure a sustainable workforce.
- Consider using existing concepts to embed te ao Māori within policy, including ‘He Awa Whiria’, building on the work undertaken in developing Te Mana o te Taiao – Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy 2020 (Department of Conservation), and Vision Mātauranga (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment).
- Develop principles for assessing and responding to cumulative effects in Aotearoa New Zealand, with flexibility for local application e.g. Hauraki Gulf Forum.
- Analyse existing methods, tools and data to identify and assess cumulative effects.
- Foster connections between high-tech tools and community knowledge.
- Support regional plans combining land-based, coastal, marine and other impacts, to reflect the ‘transboundary’ nature of issues (see Theme 2).
- Increase responsiveness within the Fisheries Act 1996 and related policies to climate change impacts on distribution and movement of species within and outside of the EEZ (see Theme 4).
- Consider research and incentives into reducing the carbon footprint of the fishing fleet (see Theme 7).
- Marine Protection Area strategy and planning could create a framework that gives consideration to stock resilience against the impacts of climate change and provide policy that is flexible enough to account for movement of species distribution due to climate change, where this is relevant (see Theme 2).
- Undertake analyses to model the economic, socioeconomic and environmental benefits of changing to more sustainable plastic use in the fisheries sector.
- Facilitate an active dialogue around rethinking plastics and other waste by setting targets and identifying opportunities to keep materials in circulation or shift to more sustainable alternatives with the fisheries sector.
- Align with the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s recommendation in Managing our Estuaries to manage estuaries as a single entity from the mountains to the sea.
Theme 4: A refined set of regulatory tools
- Refine the regulatory framework for fisheries management to support more responsive and transparent decision making to improve fisheries and environmental outcomes.
- Improve the processes for input and engagement in fisheries management, particularly in regards to undertaking effective iwi and stakeholder engagement, public involvement, and adequate checks and balances.
- Improve transparency through increasing the accessibility of information used to inform decision making, including data collected by and for the regulator (see Theme 5).
- Enable the increased use of observational and localised community knowledge, mātauranga Māori and fishers’ observations in regulatory decision making, ensuring there are appropriate processes to corroborate and validate data (see Theme 5).
- Develop a mechanism to ensure that all relevant research is incorporated into regulatory decision making (see Theme 5).
- Include a step within formal decision-making processes that ground truths quantitative modelling results against real-world observations as far as practicable.
- Support operationalisation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management to improve environmental outcomes by utilising data from existing electronic collections and expanding data collection where practicable (see Theme 5 and Theme 6).
- Empower fishers to innovate to enable them to improve environmental outcomes (see Theme 7).
- Continue to update the process behind setting and updating the deemed value of species within the Quota Management System to make it more responsive to short-term changes in species abundance and distribution, to avoid either perverse incentives to discard catch or incentives to catch in spite of penalties.
- Develop a dashboard to present the Fisheries New Zealand Stock Assessment Plenary Annual Report and Aquatic Environment and Biodiversity Annual Review information to more clearly showcase new data and knowledge and important data and knowledge gaps.
- Support development of mechanisms to increase consumers’ ability to access traceability information on fish and fish products.
- The regulatory framework could be aligned to ensure that it is fit-for-purpose to enact the Oceans Strategic Action Plan and to provide legislative backing to policy on managing the environmental impacts of fishing (see Theme 2).
- Consider a ‘traffic light’ approach that could provide a transparent way to prioritise assessment of stocks (see Theme 7.a.iv).
- Ensure Fisheries Assessment Working Groups have an inclusive culture and processes.
- Improve transparency around the Fisheries Assessment Working Groups and what data is considered in their assessments to build confidence in independent scientific scrutiny.
- Ensure there are adequate checks and balances on the decision-making process including provision for independent review.
- Decision-making processes should not allow a paucity of data to prevent active management decisions to be made, and the decision-making process in these circumstances should be transparent.
- Actively seek data and information as an integral part of the stock assessment process, including from fishers and non-Fisheries New Zealand funded scientists (see Theme 5).
- Review labelling requirements for fish and fish products in relation to increasing transparency to inform consumer choice.
Theme 5: A data platform that enables informed commercial and environmental decision making
- Cultivate a data platform that facilitates integration of data from a range of sources, compiles datasets in an accessible centralised platform, and turns them into information that can be readily applied in fisheries management and other areas of the marine domain, including state-of-the-art environmental reporting (see Theme 2).
Specific to commercial fisheries:
- Work across government and with stakeholders to develop common data standards for the centralised data platform and reporting of ocean-related data and open data agreements.
- Aggregate existing datasets from within and outside government, determine data gaps, and provide detailed prioritisation of efforts to fill gaps for:
- Fish stocks (number of stocks and frequency of assessment)
- Habitat, especially the seafloor
- Marine invasive species
- Protected marine species
- Ocean climate and acidification
- Link and integrate relevant fisheries datasets to enable timelier, spatially explicit analysis of fisheries interactions with protected species. This will include linking and integrating fishers’ electronic reporting with the protected species bycatch data from observers (data about seabird, marine mammal, shark, coral bycatch).
- Enable more timely monitoring and risk assessment of protected species bycatch by ensuring bycatch data flows into quantitative risk assessment models, so that managers can see bycatch hotspots and monitor impact on priority protected species in close to real time (see Theme 6).
- Engage with industry for the purposes of establishing an industry-wide agreement around sharing non-sensitive aggregated data with regulators, e.g. seafloor mapping (see Theme 6). Enable open and proactive use.
- Collaborate with and enable industry and others to fill data gaps where appropriate (see Theme 7).
- Increase opportunistic collection of data, e.g. through fishers, citizen science and ships of opportunity (see Theme 7.g).
- Include data, research and local knowledge gathered outside the formal government process in the centralised data platform, including from:
- Local and regional councils
- Research institutes, universities, other formal institutes
- Iwi and community groups
- Citizen science
- Emerging technologies e.g. environmental DNA (eDNA).
- Incorporate key trends from local government reporting within annual reporting (such as the Fisheries New Zealand Stock Assessment Plenary annual report and Aquatic Environment and Biodiversity Annual Review).
- Align process with Te Mana o te Taiao – Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy 2020 objective 4.2 ‘National, agreed common data standards and open data agreements are ensuring that everyone has access to a federated repository of biodiversity information’ (see Theme 5.a).
- Align the data platform with the Fisheries New Zealand Science and Information Data Transformation Strategy.
- Coordinate development of the data platform with Stats NZ Data Investment Plan.
- Current ocean monitoring efforts in Aotearoa New Zealand could be built on to establish an ocean observing system (see Theme 6).
- Identify lead ministries for maintaining and updating specific ocean-related databases at a national level, integrated within an ocean observing system (see Theme 6).
- Transition towards an increased number of stocks being reviewed annually (see Theme 4 and Theme 5.b.i).
- Consider privacy concerns; future-proofing for emerging technologies (see Theme 7); initial investment cost; the need for back-end data support; transition; funding models; the sensitivity of data on taonga species.
- Consideration of data issues can build on work already undertaken by the regulator, e.g. the matrix developed at the Ministry for Primary Industries.
- Consider how research data that is publicly funded (including that held by research institutes, universities and other formal institutes) may be better stored and accessed (see Theme 5.e).
Theme 6: An ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM) is embraced within the current regulatory framework, including the Fisheries Act 1996
- Within the current regulatory framework, transition Aotearoa New Zealand’s fisheries management system to an ecosystem approach through supporting and resourcing the expansion and uptake of wider ecosystem monitoring and driving a shift towards more ecosystem-friendly fishing methods. In the longer term, the Oceans Strategic Action Plan should facilitate and define a shared understanding of what an ecosystem approach to fisheries might encompass and what this approach aims to achieve within the context of Aotearoa New Zealand’s fisheries management (see Theme 2).
In the shorter term:
- Create a framework for prioritisation and protection of Habitats of Particular Significance for Fisheries Management (see 9(c) of Fisheries Act 1996) and review barriers to usage. Produce guidance documentation for the definition and identification of Habitats of Particular Significance for Fisheries Management (see 9(c) of Fisheries Act 1996) and required evidence base.
- Support research that advances application of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management, such as how species, including bycatch, interact to form a functional ecosystem (see Theme 7).
- Develop a set of national marine ecosystem indicators and establish long-term monitoring (including habitat, bycatch and taonga species) to better inform implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management with clear goals.
- Secure funding and commitment for the long-term monitoring to be established and maintained.
- Review best practice international approaches to national marine ecosystem indicators and incorporate relevant learnings into the Aotearoa New Zealand context.
- Define and implement an effective ecosystem protection regime in fisheries management.
- Support the development of alternative fishing methods (see Theme 7).
- In partnership with iwi, industry and environmental NGOs, develop approaches and incentivise innovation to minimise or eliminate adverse effects of fishing gear (e.g. full contact bottom trawling and dredging) on benthic habitats. E.g. further restrict the areas trawled, switch to less damaging gear when available, focus on developing new technology where less damaging gear is not currently available (see Theme 7).
- Review and prioritise restoration approaches for damaged habitats (see Theme 3 and Theme 7.a.iii).
- Investigate which species are suitable as indicators for ecological monitoring, referring to work previously undertaken, e.g. in Aotearoa New Zealand deepwater fisheries (see Theme 6.c).
- Align work on an ecosystem approach to fisheries management with:
- Te Mana o Te Taiao – Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy 2020, especially objective 12.
- The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report focusing on Aotearoa New Zealand’s Environmental Reporting system, including recommendation 1(h).
- Consider the range of tools available for protecting the ecosystem, including those that focus on species, habitat, flexible spatial and temporal management, as well as consideration of the use of buffer zones around no-take protection areas.
- Fund gear innovation research designed to reduce impact on the benthic habitat (see Theme 7).
- Ensure just transitions in any regulatory changes to preferred fishing methods.
- Review the use of full contact bottom trawling and dredging methods for fisheries and ecosystem monitoring research; explore how other research methods could be used (e.g. estimating fish biomass with eDNA surveys) and how environmental impact of monitoring can be reduced.
- Consider new approaches to the use of minimum and maximum legal sizes for species where research supports that this approach is beneficial to support sustainability (see Theme 7).
Theme 7: Research and innovation are maximised
- Take a more holistic and strategic approach to research and innovation in the marine domain to enable innovation to thrive and support more sustainable fishing (see Theme 3).
- Undertake a comprehensive review of fisheries research funding and establish a funding and research strategic action plan, including:
- Clear prioritisation of research questions to be answered, and technology to be explored, to inform and be informed by the Oceans Strategic Action Plan (see Theme 2).
- Clarity on the role of industry levy funding and government funding.
- Resource and incentivise the development and use of fishing methods that are more selective and reduce adverse impacts on the marine environment, particularly on benthic habitat and marine protected species (see Theme 6.i).
- Investment in methods that improve the efficiency of assessment of fish stocks.
- Prioritisation of real-time risk management (e.g. avoiding protected species), increasing value through innovations in processing and by-product development, and innovations that support more cost-effective data collection at a lower fisher burden.
- Support for research to fill key data gaps, particularly the basic biology of commercial fish species.
- Review the pathway to testing new fishing methods to reduce the barriers to enable innovation in trawl technology and other fishing methods.
- Invest in and incentivise innovation in environmental protection, prioritising research that enables bottom trawls to fish lighter (see Theme 6.i).
- Develop clear pathways and remove barriers for fishers to be involved in research and innovation, including support with applying for funding.
- Fast track the special permit processes to enable innovative new methods to be trialled, with key requirements to gather data and evidence of effectiveness of new methods (see Theme 5).
- Create and support a researcher/industry collaborative platform for accelerating innovation and its implementation, as well as innovation from existing companies.
- Support citizen science projects in the marine domain and guide data collection efforts to meet the Tier 1 standard so that data can feed into government reporting and decision making (see Theme 5).
- Support development of tertiary training focused on fisheries management science.
- Consider continuing or reinstating 50% partnership funding for fisheries research and development through a fisheries-specific fund.
- Consider funding support of industry transition to new technologies to encourage innovation.
- Align strategic funding plan with commentary in the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s A review of the funding and prioritisation of environmental research in New Zealand.
- Continue Fisheries New Zealand review of enabling innovation in trawl technology (EITT) and the barriers to innovation and implement changes (see Theme 7.b).
- Continue work on Fisheries New Zealand real-time risk management initiative with the goal of producing a fisher-friendly app (see Theme 4).
- Consider mechanisms of sharing good practice while maintaining IP rights.
- Support researchers to be partners in technological development not just providers.
- Support climate change research that can inform fisheries management (see Theme 3).
- Consider annual innovation showcase and awards to further encourage research and innovation.