Pragmatism and Principles: The Challenges of Delivering a Strategy to Manage the Environmental Effects of Fishing in the Face of Uncertainty Public Deposited

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  • The New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries recently set out a strategic approach to managing the adverse effects of fishing on the aquatic environment. The primary purpose of this Strategy for Managing the Environmental Effects of Fishing (SMEEF) is to set out how the Ministry of Fisheries will meet its environmental obligations stemming from the Fisheries Act 1996 and other national and international obligations. The Strategy adopts a first principles approach to assessing and managing adverse effects of fishing, including the establishment of standards for defining acceptable limits of the effects of fishing on the aquatic environment. Within this framework, where possible, fishers will have the freedom to implement management regimes and practices to maximise fishing efficiency, provided that environmental limits are not exceeded. This approach compliments the output-based fisheries management in place in New Zealand and has the potential to comprehensively address known and potential environmental impacts associated with fishing whilst enabling utilisation to be maximised. However, making the strategy a reality is not without its challenges. Information relating to the type and level of environmental impacts is often limited, with uncertainty surrounding the majority of issues. Examples include the impact of fishing related mortality on seabird populations, the vulnerability of long-lived bycatch species such as sharks and the ecosystem effects of bottom trawling. Understanding and managing these issues is complicated by frequently divergent or polarised stakeholder views on how best to address environmental impacts, high political profile, potentially significant economic impacts and considerable public interest. This paper sets out some of these challenges and describes how they may be overcome without compromising the integrity of the strategic framework.
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  • Clubb, Spencer and Jeremy Helson. 2006. Pragmatism and Principles: The Challenges of Delivering a Strategy to Manage the Environmental Effects of Fishing in the Face of Uncertainty. In: Proceedings of the Thirteenth Biennial Conference of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics & Trade, July 11-14, 2006, Portsmouth, UK: Rebuilding Fisheries in an Uncertain Environment. Compiled by Ann L. Shriver. International Institute of Fisheries Economics & Trade, Corvallis, Oregon, USA, 2006. CD ROM. ISBN 0-9763432-3-1
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