Seafood New Zealand Friday Update 7 October 2016

Friday Update is Seafood New Zealand's weekly email from our Chief Executive.

Captain's Blog

October 7, 2016 

Quota Management System thriving with prudent stock management

The entertaining television series Cray Fishers has highlighted the rewards and risks of the southern rock lobster fishery.
 It has also demonstrated just how successful the Quota Management System has been in rebuilding and conserving stocks.
 That flies in the face of a recent Listener magazine editorial that set new lows for breathless, ignorant blather in yet another attack on a seafood industry that instead should be celebrated for its contribution to our economy and enviable standard of living.
 The thrust of the Listener huffing, possibly written by an over-eager intern when veteran editor Pamela Stirling was on a day off, was that the claim our QMS is a world leader “has now been exposed as a colossal piece of hollow PR puffery”.
  The spurious reasoning was the furore over discarding from several inshore vessels revealed in the Heron report proved the QMS was a crock.
  Keyboard interviewers are, of course, entitled to their opinions but they’re not entitled to their own “facts”.
  Here are some.
  The southern rock lobster fishery, designated the CRA8 quota management area, takes in Fiordland and is a prime example of highly effective self-management.
  New Zealand has seen two cray booms characterised by dramatic overfishing of virgin stocks followed by stock collapse.
  The first was in Fiordland in the 1950s, the second in the Chathams in the 1960s, both based on exporting frozen tails to the US.
  Catches in the Fiordland fishery peaked in excess of 3500 tonnes in 1956.
  Rock lobster entered the QMS in 1990 when there were as many as 180 vessels in the southern fishery.
  The CRA8 Management Committee was formed in 1996 on the back of continuing concerns about overfishing.
  It oversaw the development of a management strategy that was accepted by the Minister at the time. The implementation of this decision rule resulted in cuts in quota from 888 tonnes in 1998 down to 567 tonnes in 2001.
   These were really tough decisions that saw the number of vessels drop to around 67 and a number of lifelong fishermen forced out of the industry.
  But the effect on the fishery was dramatic, not only arresting the decline but turning it around.
  This led to the first of a number of increases in the Total Allowable Commercial Catch in 2004 and the fishery has rebuilt to the extent the current CRA8 quota is a conservative 962 tonnes, one third of the national production.
  While the TACC is almost double that of 2001, the number of vessels is similar. 
  Today, 97 percent of lobsters from CRA8 are exported live, with China by far the biggest market. 
   Rock lobster has grown to a $300 million export industry, by far our most lucrative species.
  In CRA8 the focus today is on maximum economic yield, through a very high biomass which provides the fishermen with the opportunity to decide when and where they go fishing and what grades to land to meet market demands.
  That demand is for lobsters from the minimum legal size up to 1.5kgs.
  “This means almost all of the large, mature lobsters are returned to the sea,” according to CRA8 chief executive officer Malcolm Lawson.
   “This has resulted in a very high breeding biomass.
   “That is also good news for other stakeholders as recreational fishers favour the large lobsters and other parts of society just like to know that the population is in good heart.”
   The organisation has invested heavily in science and was also at the forefront of the formation of the Fiordland Marine Guardians and Fiordland Coastal Clean-Up.
   The close monitoring of stocks that the QMS encourages means that quotas are also reduced in some years.
   That has occurred in CRA4 based on the Wairarapa and Wellington coasts where operators have agreed to a 15 percent cut this season.
   “It is not in our interests to deplete the resource to unsustainable levels,” Wairarapa-based operator Richard Kibblewhite said. 
“We base every decision on hard science, we are not just standing on a boat taking a guess.”
He likened the fishery to a farm – one year there might be more growth, another a drought.
  Similarly, paua divers at the top of the South Island, have agreed to a significant harvest cut to preserve their fishery.
  The TACC in PAUA7 has been halved, from 187 to 93 tonnes.
  Such management decisions, some with considerable economic impact, are evidence of responsible fisheries management.
  Far from confirming the QMS is broken, they demonstrate the exact opposite.

- Tim Pankhurst
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In the Media

Industry condemns skipper's actions

Stuff (October 4) reported on Seafood New Zealand supporting the prosecution of a commercial fishing boat skipper over the death of albatross at sea.
“Industry is very disappointed in this skipper’s actions that were totally out of line. We support the Ministry for Primary Industries in the action they have taken against him,” Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst said.
“There is no excuse for his behaviour. He was required to use a tori line, a device using streamers to scare off birds.
“We are committed to ensuring that fishing does its part to prevent seabird capture and have introduced a raft of measures to protect seabirds.
“We support the National Plan of Action for seabirds, a collaborative effort involving government, NGOs and industry that has resulted in mitigating seabird capture.
“We also support and fund the Southern Seabird Solutions Trust, which works with fishermen to reduce the harm to seabirds through fishing. Read more

Read about industry initiatives to reduce harm to seabirds in the latest Seafood magazine (pages 26-30).

Top of the south fishers welcome snapper sustainability measures

Stuff (September 29) reported on snapper fishers in the top of the south welcoming the new annual review of fisheries sustainability measures, which come into effect on October 1. The new snapper limits will see an increase in the total allowable catch (TAC) from 306 tonnes to 545 tonnes and set the total allowable commercial catch (TACC) at 250 tonnes, the same as the recreational catch. Other species affected by review measures include John Dory, with a TAC increase 161 tonnes to 206 tonnes, and the TACC at 190 tonnes. Read more

Prime Minister adds mussel to aquaculture development

Stuff (September 30) reported on Prime Minister John Key saying the Government was committed to growing New Zealand's aquaculture industry and wanted to help reduce the multimillion-dollar costs farmers face re-consenting their farms. Speaking to 350 delegates at the New Zealand Aquaculture conference in Nelson last week, Key acknowledged the $400 million aquaculture industry was in a good economic space.
He conceded in order to ensure that the industry met its 2025 goal of achieving $1 billion in revenue, some additional help from the Government was needed to help balance resource consent costs against future industry investment.  
"Frankly we've got to do better, and that means the Government has got to do better on your behalf if we want it to grow," Key said. Read more

We could sell seashells? For sure

Radio New Zealand (September 29) reported on mussel and oyster cast-offs being an untapped industry for New Zealand. David Magnussen, from Swiss company MBP Solutions, told the annual Aquaculture New Zealand Conference that crushed shells from mussels and oysters could become valuable soil fertiliser, especially for developing nations. The shells are a source of lime from a pure type of calcium, which was going to waste, Magnussen said. 
"New Zealand could ... help its own seafood producers manage a waste issue, which is apparently - from what I hear - unique, and at the same time help the salinity soil issues around the world.
"If there is government willingness and funding for such programmes, you solve two issues." Read more
Sanford Ltd general manager processing Ted Culley, left, and chief executive Volker Kuntzsch with the Marlborough Award. Photo: Fairfax NZ.

Sanford awarded prestigious Marlborough Award

Stuff (October 4) reported on Sanford Ltd's mussel processing operation in Havelock being given the Marlborough Award, last presented in 2006. The award recognises significant contribution to the district through innovation. “"I'm very proud, especially since we've put in so much work lately in building our social license to operate, so to be recognised in this way is a great honour," Sanford Ltd CEO Volker Kuntzsch said.
Mayor Alistair Sowman said the company, which employs about 300 people in Marlborough, is a good example of a business that has made a positive contribution to the region.
"Havelock thrives because of the presence of Sanfords; its factory in Havelock is the heart of mussel processing and hundreds of people rely on the company for work." Read more

Why MPAs are not always good for the environment

Fox News (October 6) published an opinion piece by Prof Ray Hilborn of the University of Washington on why the current obsession with creating marine protected areas (MPAs) was bad for the oceans, the global environment and people. "The MPA advocacy movement needs to embrace the reality that closing ever-larger areas of the ocean to fishing, when it happens, should be guided by clearly stated objectives, independent scientific evaluation of alternatives, and public consultation on the impacts on people,"Dr Hilborn wrote.
"MPAs should be established where the problems are, not where it is politically expedient.  A race to see who has the biggest or the most is running in the wrong direction." Read more