Voices from the sea – Managing New Zealand’s Fisheries
By Raewyn Peart
Published by the Environmental Defence Society
Available from www.eds.org.nz.
Part report, part book, Voices from the Sea is basically a review of the history and functioning of the Quota Management System (QMS) of fisheries management that has been running in New Zealand for the last 30 years. It was written by Raewyn Peart and published by the Environmental Defence Society, of which Peart is Policy Director.
The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) is a professionally run, independent, not-for-profit environmental group. Established in 1971 it operates as a think-tank on key environmental issues as well as representing the environment before councils and the courts. EDS is located at the “collaborative and business-aware end of the environmental movement, seeking constructive engagement with all sectors, to achieve good environmental and economic outcomes for all New Zealanders”.
Peart’s approach was to interview 60 people who were closely involved with coastal fisheries, including independent commercial fishers, quota owners, fisheries managers, environmentalists, scientists and even the very odd recreational fisher. Because the book is largely about The QMS and government-managementcommercial industry interactions, the minor coverage of recreational fishers, although the largest numerical stakeholder, can be excused.
This ‘insider’ information, previous reports, reviews, articles, history and fisheries data are combined in a 168-page, lavishlyillustrated document which experienced author Peart has done her very best to make accessible to the general reader by cutting into small, digestible bites.
And Peart’s conclusions? Probably no ‘spoiler alert’ needed: apart from a few successes, she sees the QMS as generally failing to deliver for the country and ‘missing in action’ when it comes to preserving marine habitat. The fisheries management machinery has ‘ossified’ (turned to stone), was highly politicised and that there has been little appetite for any change and innovation in tackling increasingly serious fisheries problems. No surprises there. The report repeats calls for the independent inquiry into the fisheries management system that the new government called for prior to the election and makes recommendations for potential ways forward.
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