Industry organisation and oversight

The New Zealand Rock Lobster Industry Council (NZ RLIC) has its origins in the rock lobster advisory committee facilitated by the New Zealand Fishing Industry Board (NZFIB) from 1979 through to March 1996. During that time the New Zealand Fishing Industry Association and the New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen, with technical assistance from the NZFIB, had taken responsibility for rock lobster industry advocacy.

In September 1996 all three of those organisations formally passed their respective responsibilities for lobster issues across to the NZ RLIC, and in March 1998 the NZ RLIC established itself as a limited liability company.

The NZ RLIC is an umbrella organisation for the nine commercial stakeholder organizations (CSOs) operating in each of the rock lobster (CRA) management areas of New Zealand. These CSOs have been established as incorporated and unincorporated societies or limited liability companies and are known as Cray Management Area Councils (CRAMACs).

CRAMAC functions and roles

CRAMAC membership comprises CRA quota owners, processors, exporters, and fishermen (quota share owner-operators and annual catch entitlement (ACE) owners in each region.

The rules of the associations provide a two-tiered voting procedure that gives priority to quota share ownership on issues affecting total allowable catch (TAC) and total allowable commercial catch (TACC) decisions, levy setting, and cost recovery submissions. All nine CRAMACs hold a significant majority mandate of CRA quota shares owned in the regions.

CRAMACs are shareholders in the NZ RLIC, and appoint the board of directors. The current board members represent a wealth of skill and experience in the rock lobster industry. An independent chairman was appointed in 2005 to ensure proper governance, and accountability of shareholder funds.

NZ Rock Lobster Industry Council activity

The NZ RLIC participates effectively in an extensive range of consultation meetings, the National Rock Lobster Management Group (NRLMG), seminars, advisory committees, research planning groups and in the stock assessment working group processes.

The NZ RLIC takes the lead role in preparation and coordination of rock lobster industry submissions to Select Committees. The NZ RLIC and CRAMAC representatives supplement their practical experience with sound and credible science and policy advice contracted directly from experts. The marriage of the practical working knowledge of the rock lobster fisheries and the research and management expectations of officials and sector groups has been both successful and productive.

The NZ RLIC works with Government agencies to develop and implement credible standards and specifications to enable direct purchase of a range of fisheries services.

Rock lobster research

In 1997 the NZ RLIC became an accredited research provider to the Minister of Fisheries, and since then has successfully tendered for, and executed, four rock lobster stock assessment contracts. The NZ RLIC has successfully contracted a fourth contract for a multi-year research programme.

Research contracts are undertaken in collaboration with National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), and contracted internationally recognised stock assessment consultants. The NZ RLIC also utilises accredited field technicians employed by NIWA and by CRAMACs to undertake an extensive rock lobster stock monitoring programme in support of stock assessments.

Industry levies and funding

The rock lobster industry currently contributes $4.6 million in Government cost recovery levies. Research and compliance costs comprise the majority of those levies. In addition, the rock lobster industry is voluntarily funding several regional research programmes and a major compliance initiative.

Rock lobster industry organizational funding was previously drawn primarily from statutory levies administered first by the Fishing Industry Board, then by the Seafood Industry Council, and also supplemented by CRAMAC membership subscriptions and voluntary funding on a project by project basis.

From April 2013 the NZ Rock Lobster Industry Council became a levying authority in its own right and a Rock Lobster Commodity Levy Order was established. The Levy Order is reviewed in five year cycles and was last renewed in 2018.

National Rock Lobster Management Group

Industry has provided a strong foundation for the National Rock Lobster Management Group (NRLMG) since it was first established in 1992.

Recognised as the primary source of advice to Ministers on all matters pertaining to rock lobster fisheries, the NRLMG is resourced by the Ministry of Fisheries and participant stakeholder groups by way of provision of an independent chairman, meeting venues, catering, and an administrative support.