Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 43–62

New Zealand's ITQ system: have the first eight years been a success or a failure?

  • John H. Annala

DOI: 10.1007/BF00058519

Cite this article as:
Annala, J.H. Rev Fish Biol Fisheries (1996) 6: 43. doi:10.1007/BF00058519


Have the first eight years of the ITQ system been a success or failure? In my opinion the ITQ system has, on balance, been a success, although it has not been problem free. The positive aspects of the QMS have been as follows.
  1. 1.

    The overall perception is that the economic performance of the industry has improved.

  2. 2.

    The biological status of the resource has improved, with rebuild strategies in place for stocks that are below Bmsy.

  3. 3.

    There has been increased industry responsibility in the conduct of their fishing operations and their contribution to fisheries management decision making.

  4. 4.

    An open and transparent stock assessment and TAC setting process has evolved, with participation invited from all the sector/user groups.

  5. 5.

    Bycatch problems appear to have been reduced by fishers adjusting their catch mix and methods of operation, by the adoption of industry codes of practice, and by the implementation of a system of overfishing provisions that has evolved to take into account changing circumstances.

  6. 6.

    Quota busting, dumping, and high grading appear to have decreased.

The following are the major difficulties or problems still being encountered, but all are being or will be addressed.
  1. 1.

    The allocation of fisheries rights amongst competing sector/user groups (including the commercial industry, aboriginal/traditional users, recreational fishers and environmental/conservation groups) needs to be clearly defined before property rights are conferred under ITQs. The failure to clearly define property rights in New Zealand has hindered the development of secure access to the fisheries resource for all sector/user groups.

  2. 2.

    There has been no evidence of a substantial reduction in government intervention. However, the recently introduced fisheries legislation gives more responsibility to the various sector/user groups for fisheries management decision making (a form of comanagement).

  3. 3.

    The administrative systems of a QMS, especially matching catch against quota, should be kept as simple as possible. The catching right (ACE) should preferably be kept separate from the property right (ITQ).

The success of the ITQ system in New Zealand can be attributed to the following four main factors.
  1. 1.

    New Zealand is isolated geographically with no major shared or straddling stocks.

  2. 2.

    Key fishing industry players were strong supporters and promoters of the ITQ system right from the start and were instrumental in getting the system introduced. The system also enjoyed widespread support from fishery managers and politicians.

  3. 3.

    The Government bought back catch histories from inshore fishers to reduce TACs in stressed inshore stocks, so fishers were compensated for catch reductions.

  4. 4.

    At the time of the catch reductions for the inshore species, the offshore, deep-water species were largely underexploited. Subsequently, catches from these latter fisheries increased, which formed a strong economic base for the development of the New Zealand fishing industry.


The pace of change in New Zealand's fisheries management structures and systems has moved rather quickly since the mid 1980s in comparison with most other fishing nations. The near future is likely to be no exception. We are moving into an era of the recovery of the attributable costs of fisheries management from the industry, increased participation of sector/user groups in fisheries management, contestability of the delivery of fisheries management services, and a fundamental restructuring of the Ministry of Fisheries. All of these changes cannot but help to fundamentally alter the way that fisheries are managed in New Zealand. Watch this space for the results of this experiment and for future developments.

Copyright information

© Chapman & Hall 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • John H. Annala
    • 1
  1. 1.Ministry of FisheriesWellingtonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations