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The New Zealand Initiative Fishery Exchange

EDF | 2017

In May 2017, I organized an exchange trip for a group of New Zealanders involved in the recreational, commercial and customary fishing sectors to meet with representatives from multiple sectors and institutions in Fremantle, Australia to learn about Western Australia’s (WA) approach to managing shared fisheries. 

Although New Zealand is often seen as a leader in sustainable fisheries management, they are still struggling to ensure that their fish stocks are allocated fairly and equitably across secure fishing entitlements and in ways that improve fishing for each sector. Tensions have been mounting between the commercial and recreational fishing sectors as they compete for limited fisheries resources and blame each other for problems with their shared fisheries.

The New Zealand Initiative's (NZI) Fishery Project is trying to change that. The project focused on producing recommendations for how to overcome inter-sectoral challenges to improve abundance of fish stocks, ensure future sustainability, uphold customary Māori rights, and uphold the rights of non-Māori quota holders.

We partnered with NZI to organize a fishery exchange with WA that would inspire the New Zealand representatives with ideas for how to resolve their challenges and achieve these goals.  WA has unique and effective structures for ensuring the sectors are actively engaged with each other and the government in data collection and management for their shared fisheries.  

I developed this exchange by working with NZI to understand the challenges New Zealand was facing and the unique perspectives that each participant would bring to the table. I used that insight to work with representatives from WA's Department of Fisheries, the WA recreational representative group (Recfishwest), and the WA Fishing Industry Council, to fill our agenda with productive meetings. 

The exchange was successful in building relationships among participants, generating rich discussions about complex fishery management challenges, inspiring the New Zealanders to bring back some new approaches, and motivating them to continue working together, across sectors, through the challenges they are facing. 

The New Zealand Initiative and participants from the exchange have since hosted a series of public meetings up and down the country to hear the public's views and raise support for changes. NZI has produced a final report of recommendations for preserving New Zealand's recreational fisheries for the next generation.