Stock assessment process

Each Quota Management Area is in line for a Stock Assessment once every 3 to 10 years, depending on the perception of the health of that fishery. These are hugely expensive projects ($250,000) which are cost recovered from quota owners.

PICL is an active participant in the Shellfish Working Groups through which the Stock Assessment process is managed. The final output from these meetings is a report that MFish use to determine the status of stocks which leads to a decision whether an adjustment to the TAC is required. It should be noted that this is pretty much the limit of the Government’s involvement in fisheries management, do nothing, hope for the best and cut the TACC if it goes “pear shaped”!

The Paua Stock Assessment did not make it through this process as the working group did not consider it adequate to make any assessment of stock status. Had PICL and other industry players not intervened the Ministry would almost certainly have slashed the TACC by 30% (costing industry about $14 million) on the basis of poor stock assessment advice.

Another Stock Assessment for Paua was started this year and for the first time the industry had a say in the process of establishing the standards and specifications that NIWA have to operate to while doing these assessments. This is extremely important as there is little point going through the exercise and then have the assessment fail to get past the Shellfish Working group. Should this happen, the assessment will be re-run the following year and the industry is obliged to fund the second assessment.

PICL is looking seriously at the issue of legal redress for inadequate stock assessment work being billed to Industry.

PICL are active in reducing the need for stock assessments by building up the industries capacity to collect fisheries data as they are harvesting. Any industry work here has the potential to save substantial amounts of money as MFish contracted stock assessments are reduced in number.