Environmental Principles. The act provides the following general environmental principles:

  •  Stocks must be maintained at or above defined levels. TACs must be set at a level that will maintain stocks at or above a level or move them toward the level that will produce the maximum sustainable yield.
  •  The effects of fishing on associated and dependent species must be taken into account.
  •  The biological diversity of the aquatic environment must be conserved.

Consultation. The act formalizes the processes for consultation with sector-user groups. This replaces the current informal advisory group structure. The creation of a National Fishery Advisory Council, with representation from all sector-user groups, has been authorized.

Conflict Resolution. The act formalizes the resolution of conflicts concerning access to resources. The process first encourages various sector-user groups to resolve their differences. If the parties are unable to negotiate a solution, the Minister may appoint a commissioner to hold an inquiry and report back to the Minister. All such disputes will be resolved by the Minister.

Addition of New Species into the Quota Management System. The government intends to move all commercially harvested species into the QMS over the next three years. Twenty percent of all new quota will be allocated to Maori. For most species, quota will be allocated on the basis of catch history. There will be an appeals process for quota allocations, but the process will be stricter than previously. The process will not result in any increases to TACs, and there will be a time limit for lodging appeals.

Simplification of the Quota Management System. At present, the central rule in the QMS is that fishermen must hold quota before going fishing. The manner in which this rule is administered has resulted in the overfishing provisions described above and drives much of the complexity of the QMS.

The new Fisheries Act separates the property right (ITQ) from the catching right by introducing a system of annual catch entitlements (ACEs). For most species, fishermen will no longer be required to hold ITQ before going fishing but will be required to hold an ACE. At the beginning of each fishing year, every person who holds quota will be allocated an ACE based on the amount of quota held. ACEs are superficially similar to an annual lease of quota and are tradable rights like ITQs. When the catch exceeds the ACE, a deemed value is payable. The separation of catching rights from ITQs is expected to assist investment in fisheries by increasing the security of ITQs.

The existing 10% overrun of ITQ provision will be abolished. Consultation is occurring with stakeholders to determine which mechanisms will be retained to assist with managing bycatch issues in multispecies fisheries.

Institutional Reform. Another issue is reform of the delivery of fisheries

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