1. The rights-based framework that underpins the Quota Management System is incomplete
The rock lobster industry has set the pace for co-operative user group management of inshore fisheries. Working alliances with recreational representatives and customary users are generally friendly, and as productive as they can be under the constraints currently imposed by legislation and the application of fisheries management policy.
The Ministry of Fisheries has proposed fisheries management reforms which have been endorsed by previous Cabinet decisions. These reforms should devolve to quota holders “the responsibility for developing and implementing harvesting plans which meet sustainability standards and allocation requirements set by government”.
The rock lobster industry is impatient to attain the Ministry of Fisheries vision of devolution and co-management which is enabled by the 1996 Act. The two primary constraints are:
- the incompleteness of the rights-based framework
- uncertainty over Government policies regarding the integrity of commercial property rights to sea fisheries.
Direct purchase of services
For the rock lobster industry, direct purchase of research and compliance services is an attainable goal if:
- the industry funding base is secured
- criminal and administrative compliance functions can be separated.
The NZ RLIC is confident that there are efficiency gains and savings to be made by industry and by Government if direct purchase is enabled.
Just as importantly, the NZ RLIC is equally confident that direct purchase of research and compliance services can be done in a manner that will not compromise the integrity or credibility of service provision.
Rock lobster Fishery Plans
In the same way, the NZ RLIC is confident that by working with the CRAMACS, comprehensive rock lobster Fishery Plans can be developed, implemented and managed.
The NZ RLIC is confident that regional ‘co-management’ will be even more attainable if Government more clearly defines recreational rights and responsibilities within a secure operational and public policy framework.
2. Lack of credible non-commercial catch data
The NRLMG has consistently highlighted the urgency of compiling credible non-commercial catch data for stock assessment and management purposes.
If more and better information about rock lobster removals is made available, greater certainty can be accorded to the outcome of stock assessments, and the expectations of cooperative user group management initiatives.
There is a high level of certainty regarding:
- commercial catch and effort data
- the stock monitoring data provided by commercial operators and/or research technicians working from commercial vessels.
There is very poor certainty in the ‘best available’ information on current:
- recreational and customary removals
- estimates of illegal removals.
Understanding non-commercial catch
In several CRA management areas the combined non-commercial catch has been assumed to be equal to and/or greater than commercial landings. In that situation greater certainty is required to:
- inform the stock assessment process
- enable effective measures to be applied so that non-commercial landings are constrained within the allowances made when setting TACs.
These information needs have been consistently underlined by the rock lobster scientific Working Group and by the National Rock Lobster Management Group, but no significant improvement has yet been attained.
Current non-commercial research and reporting
In the view of the NZ RLIC, the recreational research programmes currently underway are neither sufficiently timely nor particularly well targeted towards the collection of reliable catch estimates.
Likewise, customary regulations incorporating catch reporting have yet to be introduced in all regions.