There is concern within the commercial fishing industry as to what a Fisheries Plan is and over the past five years; just when the industry thinks it has established what they could embrace – the goal posts shift. To date no Fisheries Plan (in any fishery) has been approved by the Minister of Fisheries, which tends to suggest that there is doubt within the Ministry ranks as well. Are they Management Plans, Harvesting Strategies, Stock Strategies, Productivity Plans or something else – nobody has yet managed to discover what they really are.
Basically, the Ministry of Fisheries role is to guarantee the sustainability of fisheries. The principle tool they have if they are concerned about sustainability is to cut the quota to reduce the take.
Fisheries Plans have been talked about as operating in another realm – once sustainability is ensured they became the mechanism which allows local stakeholders to maximise productivity and utilisation through agreed management initiatives.
PauMac7 (the Commercial Paua Industry Association at the top of the South Island) is working collectively with MFish to try and develop a Fisheries Plan for their fishery. However we know that this cannot become a template for other regions as MFish have again changed direction with their definition of what a Fisheries Plan is.
What is a Fisheries Plan? Only time will tell….