Conservation Services Levies and the Management of Protected Species By-catch in New Zealand Fisheries

Mike Donoghue, External Relations Division, Department of Conservation

Conservation Services Levies may be charged by the Minister of Conservation to commercial fishers to cover the costs of work undertaken by the Department of Conservation to identify and remedy the adverse impact of commercial fishing operations on protected species of marine wildlife. While attention has been mainly focussed on marine mammals and seabirds, marine species protected under the Wildlife Act also include two species of corals and the spotted black grouper from the Kermadec Islands.

The programmes to be funded under the Conservation Services Levies are determined annually through a consultation process with approved stakeholders, including representatives of the fishing industry, Maori interests and conservation groups.

The incidental take (or by-catch) of protected species of marine wildlife in New Zealand is managed through a statutory process involving officials from the Department of Conservation and the Ministry of Fisheries and stakeholders. Section 15 of the Fisheries Act provides the Minister of Fiseries with the power to take such measures as are considered necessary to limit the fishing-related mortality of marine wildlife.

Additionally, the Minister of Conservation can require the production of Population Management Plans (PMP's), that may set maximum allowable fishing-related mortality for certain species, as well as recommending other ways to mitigate the adverse impacts of fishing operations. PMPs bring together government officials, fishing industry representatives and other interested parties, to develop legally-binding long-term strategies for the management of by-catch. The Minister of Fisheries must concur with any PMP, but is then required to ensure that any allowable levels of fishing-related mortality are not exceeded.

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