Individual Transferable Quota’s in fishing: Part 2


In my previous article I introduced Individual Transferable Quota’s in regard to our fisheries as a resource. This article looks at some of the problems with I.T.Q.’s.

It is first important to know that there is no such thing as “the perfect system”. Any number and potentially any combination of variables, foreseen and unforeseen can interfere with the I.T.Q. system. They can be environmental, or economic, social or political, driven by local, national or international issues.

In New Zealand, perhaps the biggest problems with I.T.Q.’s are:

  • Enforcing them
  • Maintaining their sustainability against increasing demand both locally and internationally
  • Balancing the resource for commercial and non commercial interests

New Zealand’s economic zone has a varied marine life inhabiting it, from hapuku and hoki to Bluff oysters and crayfish

Enforcing New Zealand fisheries has been a problem. Other articles I have written allude to a problem with foreign flagged vessels that have been operating in New Zealand. Because of the vast area under New Zealand jurisdiction, it is necessary to involve both the New Zealand police and Royal New Zealand Navy in these operations as only they have the logistical and legal means. With regards to the I.T.Q.’s, these foreign flagged vessels have been caught catching over their quota’s and the crews have admitted to dumping the excess so as not to be caught.

It is not just a foreign vessel issue though. Many locals feign ignorance of the local rules irrespective of species. This is mainly around coastal fisheries and not on the open sea. Normally Ministry of Primary Industries rangers and local police monitor activity. They are looking out for over catching, undersized shells, inappropriate equipment and catching outside of designated areas or seasons.

New Zealand fisheries are highly rated overseas because of their purity and attempts at being sustainably managed. It is an increasingly important challenge to ensure that the catches reported each year fall within the yields permitted. Just because New Zealand has taken steps that acknowledge the fallacy of the tragedy of the commons, other nations trying to maintain their economic growth, for whom sustainability is a westernized concept, getting as much as they can is more important.

Domestically the biggest challenge is balancing recreational interests with commercial fisheries. This just happens to be a part of a course assignment I am doing at the moment, putting a case forward for the use of I.T.Q.’s, and in doing so, I am addressing a stand off between these factions, along with iwi and hapu whose food gathering areas may have rahui applied that mean non-Maori have to stay out of certain areas.

So as we move forward in the 21st Century against a backdrop of other nations still being afflicted by the thinking that goes with a “get as much as I can” mentality, New Zealand has its own challenges. Burgeoning demand for New Zealand fish stocks, balancing that demand with local and customary needs means although I.T.Q.’s might be a significant step forward, they can only work if all parties concerned are on board.

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