Deepwater Fisheries Research Boost

( Spending on research into the sustainability of New Zealand’s deepwater fisheries is to increase by almost 50 per cent over the next 10 years.

The Ministry of Fisheries, in partnership with industry, has developed a comprehensive long term research programme into the deepwater fisheries which are part of an industry worth $1.4 billion in exports to the New Zealand economy.

To support this programme, Government and industry have committed an additional $5 million each year for 10 years over and above the existing $12m spent each year on deepwater fisheries research.

New Zealand Seafood Industry Council chief executive Owen Symmans said the initiative would improve decision making about the fisheries and lead to better environmental outcomes.

“We’ve got a globally recognised fisheries management regime in New Zealand, but we’re always looking to improve. Industry is behind this programme of research because it’ll help give us the tools to continue to manage the fishery sustainably. ”

The focus of the research programme is to increase information and knowledge about the sustainability of all deepwater stocks (including bycatch stocks). It will also investigate what impacts fishing is having on the marine environment so management action can be take, if needed.

The increased research will be focussed on three areas:

1. Increasing observer coverage – making a significant increase in the number of independent observers across the deepwater fishing fleet. This will amount to a three times more coverage than currently achieved with implementation commencing in October 2010.
2. Increasing the number of stock assessments – research into the populations of fish stocks, both the target fisheries for those fish stocks taken as incidental bycatch.
3. Increased research into marine environment, deepwater habitats and ecosystems to better understand what impacts fishing may be having on the aquatic environment.

“This 10 year research programme will also lead to more efficiencies in the way the research is provided” said George Clement, Chief Executive of the DeepWater Group Ltd, a non-profit organisation which represents deepwater quota owners.

“Almost all the costs of research into New Zealand’s deepwater fisheries is paid by industry, and we view our investment in this research as critical to the future of our businesses. By focussing all research and observer spending through this one programme we’re able to get improved outcomes from our research dollar.”

“That means more science-based information, full observer coverage across the deepwater fleet, more surveys to assess stock size, more stock assessments to assess stock status and, ultimately, better information to inform better management decisions to secure the future sustainability of these fisheries for all New Zealanders.”

Media Release 26 May 2010 from New Zealand Seafood Industry Council.