Fisheries Management System Review

The Fisheries Management System Review began in late 2015. Find out about the review and a new major work programme called Future of our Fisheries.

Pulse check

New Zealand's fisheries management system is sound. Scientific assessments show that overall New Zealand's fisheries are doing well.

However, the system's key building blocks – the Fisheries Act and the Quota Management System – have been in place for 20 and 30 years respectively. Technology has advanced and society's expectations of how fisheries management should operate have also changed. This gives us a chance to review the system. We want to ensure it continues to deliver for all users.

What is covered by the review

This review gives us a chance to think more broadly about our key processes, regulatory and legislative settings.

The review considers the changing needs and expectations of the people who use New Zealand's fisheries to ensure our systems are best focused to sustainably deliver on those needs.

Geographic coverage

The area under review included the New Zealand coastline (territorial sea) and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), as well as freshwater fisheries, such as those that are home to eels and mullets. The focus was on wild catch fish species and shellfish.

What is not in the review

The review is focused on enhancing the existing fisheries management system. But some core elements of the system are out of scope for the review:

  • sustainable utilisation of fisheries resources as set out in Section 8 of the Fisheries Act
  • the Quota Management System tools (quota and annual catch entitlements)
  • the rights of commercial quota ownership
  • the Crown's obligations under Treaty settlements
  • the rights and interests of tangata whenua, and customary management
  • the right to fish for recreation.

The areas and fisheries not included were the high seas beyond New Zealand's EEZ.

What we did

As a first step in the review, MPI sought the public's views in 2015 on the strengths and weaknesses of the current system, and opportunities and priorities for change.

As well as an online questionnaire, we ran drop-in information sessions and met with interested groups. MPI fisheries experts were available to answer questions and questionnaires could be completed at the venues.

The review recognises the range of initiatives underway in the fisheries management system.

Ideas and suggestions

Numerous suggestions and ideas were received in the areas of:

  • fisheries stocks sustainability
  • maximising benefits of total allowable catch
  • improved cost management
  • the need for better fisheries information
  • opportunities for alternative governance arrangements
  • responding effectively to future challenges.

Download the submissions

What happens next

Since the review began, a number of other pieces of work by MPI and the Government have progressed. They include the:

  • Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge
  • Marine Protected Areas Act proposal.

In addition, MPI needs to address the issue of illegal discarding, and the findings of the independent Heron report.

Combining these factors with the suggestions and ideas we received in 2015, MPI is developing a wider work programme, Future of our Fisheries. The programme includes the Fisheries Management System Review. In late 2016, MPI consulted on the Future of our Fisheries work programme.

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have questions about the review, email

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