Scientists Criticise QMS Fisheries “Mismanagement”

A group of scientists have come out critical of the New Zealand fishery’s quota management system. Claims that New Zealand has a “world leading” system for sustainably managing sea fisheries are in error, says an international team of fisheries experts.

Their views were published online in the official journal of the prestigious US-based National Academy of Sciences, a member organisation of top scientists. The scientists critical of NZ’s QMS were Professor Elisabeth Slooten, Department of Zoology, University of Otago; Dr Glenn Simmons, New Zealand Asia Institute, University of Auckland; Professor Stephen Dawson, head of Department of Marine Science at the University of Otago; Associate Professor Graeme Bremner, Botswana International University of Science and Technology; Professor Simon Thrush, head of the University of Auckland-based Institute of Marine Science; Professor Hugh Whittaker, School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, University of Oxford; Dr Fiona McCormack, Anthropology Programme, University of Waikato; Associate Professor Bruce Robertson, Department of Zoology, University of Otago; Professor Nigel Haworth, Management and International Business, University of Auckland; Philip Clarke, Quadrat Ltd; Professor Daniel Pauly and Dr Dirk Zeller, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia.”

“Claims by MPI and the fishing industry about the excellence of the QMS simply do not match the facts,” said researcher Dr Glenn Simmons from the New Zealand Asia Institute at the University of Auckland Business School.

Professor Liz Slooten from Otago University said, “The majority of New Zealand fish species are managed on the basis of fishing industry information only, such as self-reported catch and effort data, without any independent science. Many of these fisheries are doing very poorly and causing serious environmental impacts. New Zealand is failing miserably at looking after the majority of our fish stocks for the public.”

Professor Steve Dawson, Head of the Department of Marine Science at the University of Otago, saids the “world leading” spin on the QMS was “so often repeated that it is now earnestly believed by the majority. While the notion that New Zealand leads the world might promote a healthy spirit of innovation, it can also degenerate into smugness and complacency – such complacency is rife in MPI and among politicians.”

The QMS had resulted in the majority of fishing quota being bought by a small number of companies and wealthy individuals.

” This has been bad for small-scale fishers, bad for managing fish populations and bad for protecting the marine environment,” he said.

The paper rejected claims that an opinion survey showed the QMS was a success. The authors said these claims were based on an “untrustworthy” opinion survey that focused only on management of high value, high volume species and interviewed only seven people, five of whom worked for the fishing industry, MPI or NIWA (who do stock assessments) and two of whom were anonymous.

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