National Fisheries Plans

The Fisheries Act enables the Minister to approve fisheries plans, which must be taken into account by the Minister when setting sustainability measures. The Act is silent on who may prepare a fisheries plan, but in recent years the Ministry has taken on this function. The plans are not mandatory and may relate to fish stocks, fishing years, or areas.

The Act provides a broad statutory framework for the preparation of fisheries plans:

  • Plans may relate to fish stocks, fishing years and/or areas
  • Plans may include fisheries management objectives, strategies to achieve the objectives, and/or performance criteria to measure the achievement of the objectives amongst other things
  • Plans are prepared within the overriding purpose of the Act which is “to provide for the utilisation of fisheries resources while ensuring sustainability” 1870

Fisheries decision-making processes for deepwater, highly migratory species, inshore finfish, inshore shellfish and freshwater fisheries are guided by National Fisheries Plans. These plans are designed to build on the Fisheries 2030 government strategy for the seafood sector which has a long-term goal of “New Zealanders maximising benefits from the use of fisheries within environmental limits”. 1871  They are important, because the Minister for Primary Industries is required to take them into account before setting or varying relevant sustainability measures, or making other decisions under the Fisheries Act 1996. 1872  As well as setting out the broader management approach, the plans may contain fishery-specific chapters which provide more detail on the way that individual fisheries are to be managed in accordance with the overall fisheries plan. These chapters also provide operational objectives for managing bycatch species.

The Ministry for Primary Industries, deepwater quota owners and environmental representatives, collaborated to develop the National Fisheries Plan for Deepwater and Middle-depth Fisheries 2010 (the National Deepwater Plan). The first part outlines the management objectives over the coming five years and contains fishery specific chapters. The second part includes an Annual Operational Plan that details the planned management actions to be delivered in each particular year, the services required, and overviews for the fishery specific chapters. The third part of the plan is the Annual Review Reports. This assesses how well the sector has progressed towards meeting its objectives and priorities in the previous year. The National Development Deepwater plan is undergoing review in 2017. 

The National Fisheries Plan for Highly Migratory Species 2010 (HMS National Plan) includes fishery-specific chapters for skip-jack, albacore and large pelagic species. The 5 year plan guides New Zealand's management of highly migratory species (HMS), the country’s international role in managing HMS, changes or decisions for HMS fisheries under the Fisheries Act and planning for fisheries services. A new HMS National Plan is due to be released in 2017.

Draft national plans have been produced for inshore finfish, inshore shellfish and freshwater fisheries. The Ministry for Primary industries is currently reviewing and updating these plans to reflect recent initiatives, including the Future of Our Fisheries programme launched in 2016.   

Information about National Fisheries Plans is available on the MPI’s website.

Future of Our Fisheries Programme

The Future of Our Fisheries programme was initiated in 2016 by the Ministry of Primary Industries. The aim of the programme is to ensure that the fisheries management system is future-focused, and able to provide a sustainable fisheries resource for all New Zealand. The programme has been assisted by a Technical Advisory Group who provide expert, independent advice on the programme and over 15 public consultations with public and iwi across the country in 2016.  

The first major step in the programme is the development of a new digital system for tracking, reporting and monitoring commercial fishing activity. This system will replace the current methods for reporting and provide a way to verify that reporting is accurate. Commercial fishing boats will be required to have:

  • geospatial position reporting (GPR) – to identify where fishing occurs
  • electronic reporting via an e-logbook – to quickly and accurately measure commercial catch and effort
  • electronic monitoring (cameras) – to verify what is being reported

In addition, regulations are being promulgated to allow the use of innovative new trawl technologies on commercial fishing boats. Other matters being considered are fisheries information needs, decision-making and value-add opportunities. 

  1. Fisheries Act 1996, section 8(1)



Last updated at 3:25PM on November 23, 2017