What we can do

Recreational Fishers

recreational-fishingMore fish in the water – we need to take a more cautious approach to managing fish stocks. More fish in the water is better for all fishers, because it is easier to catch fish, but it is better for the fish and the environment too.

Charter operators are a far cry from the recreational fishers – these boats are more akin to commercial operators in the damage they cause but currently operate under scanty recreational regulations. They need to be brought to heel.

Let’s get our act together – for a small license fee recreational fishers could establish a democratic Trust. We would no longer be the forgotten sector, relying on passionate amateurs to fight for our rights. We could take control of improving our fishing experience, buy our own quota and have a real say over how important fish stocks are managed.

Fishing Industry

Seabirds_longlinersmMore fish in the water – most fish stocks are well managed thanks to the Quota Management System. But in some cases we need to take a more cautious approach. We simply are too ignorant of the environmental impacts on the fishery.

Environmental standards – Freeze the bottom trawling footprint while we set clear environmental standards for monitoring and managing the impacts of fishing on key species and habitats. Stop clear felling more and more ocean floor.

Steering their own ship – Once standards are in place and recreational fishing comes inside the Quota Management System, it would be possible for fishers to collectively manage their resource. This would require fishers having the ability to act collectively and sanction members who didn’t abide by group decisions. Quota decisions could be made by an independent board with the Government only stepping in with heavy-handed regulation when management fails.

Fish eaters and everyone else

Protect the ocean – Fishers make up 20-30% of our population and fishing is a fairly small fraction of our GDP. Why do we allow fishers carte blanche access to the ocean? Fishing, even with a hook and line, impacts on the entire ecosystem. Given our other impacts on the ocean for insurance we need a representative sample of areas that are preserved as close to their natural state as possible. 10% of our EEZ should be put into a network of marine reserves, plus other additional protected areas. Currently we have a paltry 0.2% of our mainland territorial waters in reserves.

We eat too much fish – Kiwis gobble more than our share of global fish stocks. This implies that the populist health-conscious, sushi-eating craze is one of the most hypocritical dietary activities that exists. We need to eat smaller portions of quality fish.

Farmed fish – Just because it is farmed doesn’t mean it is sustainable. Farmed salmon and prawns rely on feed made from wild fish – which reduces the global supply of fish for people to eat. It is better for the food supply, environment and our health if we eat small fry like sardines and mussels instead of the salmon they are fed to.

Choose carefully – Until the world manages its fisheries sustainably, we need to be conscious of what we eat. Look for products certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.


p4233mchProtect the ocean – establish marine reserves over a minimum 10% representative sample of each type of ecosystem, plus other marine protected areas (such as no trawl areas).

Assign rights to use the ocean – zone the ocean and create tradable rights between different users. We should charge rates to all commercial users of the ocean to pay for the creation and monitoring of environmental standards.

More fish in the water – use Marginal Sustainable Yield (the theoretical fish stock size where the fish are most productive) as a lower limit rather than a target for fish stock management.

Hands off – once the rights are allocated and standards are set, the Government should enable all sectors to set their own collective rules and sanctions. Quota decisions could be overseen by an independent board, and Government would only need to step in when standards were breached.