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SANZ SUBMISSION on Quota Management System



In early in 2005 the Ministry of Fisheries decided to delay the introduction of New Zealand seaweeds into the Quota Management System.  Seven seaweeds had been identified to be put under this system in 2005, but this decision gives time for important sustainable management systems to be devised.

Currently, too little information is available on New Zealand seaweeds to confidently make the resource widely available, without jeopardizing the long-term sustainability of the resource.

Research on harvesting, methods, impact, seasonal implications, and effects on non target populations, is needed to create comprehensive and dependable sustainable management plans for our seaweeds.

Currently a trial on Ecklonia radiata is being conducted -

Over a 2-3 year period, the research will specifically address:

  • Determining the standing stock of E. radiata for a given area of seabed
  • Quantifying the impacts of harvesting (cutting) natural populations
, including

a) regeneration of harvest areas

b) effect on other marine species.

This information will be used to:

  • Determine when E. radiata should not be cut and what size areas should be cut
  • Develop a harvesting / reseeding model for E. radiata.


SANZ Inc would encourage more trials of this nature, especially for the 7 seaweeds proposed to enter the QMS (sometime). Those seaweeds are:

  • agar weed (Pterocladia lucida, Pterocladia capillacea)
    • bladder kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera)
    • brown kelp (Ecklonia radiata)
    • bull kelp (Durvillea spp)
    • gracilaria weed (Gracilaria chilensis)
    • lessonia (Lessonia variegata)
    • porphyra (Porphyra spp)

    Go to SANZ Inc Submission on QMS

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    7 July 2005   

    Minister of Fisheries

    C/- Kamila Skapa

    Principal Policy Adviser


    Dear Kamila,

    Regarding the Ministry of Fisheries consultation on the IPP which includes a regulatory proposal on opening 4 new areas to commercial beach cast seaweed harvesting the SANZ response is as follows. 

    SANZ approves of the opening of four new areas for responsible beach cast collection, and trusts that appropriate monitoring of outcomes occurs. It does seem that the collection of beach cast seaweed has minimal impact on the marine coastal ecology
    but it would be generally helpful if this were verified.

    Yours faithfully

    Jill Bradley

    Chairperson, SANZ

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    November 2004

    SANZ SUBMISSION on Quota Management System

    Re-submission from Seaweed Association of New Zealand (SANZ), regarding the Introduction of Seaweeds into the QMS

    Section 19 Consultation on the Introduction of Seaweeds into the Quota Management System (QMS) on 1 October 2005. This response is from the Seaweed Association of New Zealand and addresses each of the four proposals, Costs and benefits; Quota management areas; Fishing year; and unit of measure. There are also additional background notes and an appendix provided.

  • Costs and benefits of QMS introduction
  • .
    (a) SANZ agrees that there are significant economic benefits to New Zealand from the responsible and sustainable development of our seaweed resources.

    (b) Sustainability. SANZ is not convinced that the QMS, as proposed, is the appropriate vehicle to ensure sustainability. There is a paucity of information relevant to ecological concerns and sustainability issues of harvesting. There are serious implications for biodiversity if the habitat structure is altered by the indiscriminate removal of seaweeds. SANZ expresses an interest in working MFish and research providers (e.g., NIWA) to address some of these issues.

    (c) Staged introduction. SANZ suggests that a gradual introduction period is preferable. That implementation commence with a 3-5 year period within which seaweed harvesters hold a quota ‘lease’ with a future ‘right to buy’ or right to renew for a fee that applies over specified, exclusive areas of coastline. This right being provisional on sound harvesting/management plans, information gathering and collating. This would provide a period within which science and industry can develop meaningful baseline information on which a sustainable industry can be built.

    (d) New Players. New entrants would be required to submit operational plans establishing a specific exclusive seaweed area, how they intend to harvest and maintain sustainability prior to gaining quota. Such quota should permit regional preference for industry to prohibit raiding, and to ensure minimal transport costs for a new industry.

    (e) For seaweeds incidentally caught when targeting other species, SANZ supports adding seaweeds to the Sixth Schedule in order for fishers to return seaweeds to the sea.

    (f) Regarding Area 9, SANZ supports the submission on behalf of Maori Aquaculture Development and Whangape Mussel Spat Catchers Ltd to divide Area 9 into 2 areas. One exclusive for mussel spatfishers from Cape Reinga south to Shipwreck Bay and the remainder for users other than mussel spat fishers.

  • The QMAs
  • .

        a) Non-attached seaweeds. SANZ notes that the Consultation Document does not distinguish between beach-cast, free-floating and attached seaweeds.

      • Attached seaweed is likely to provide for high-value industries, (e.g., edible products) and will also have a greater environmental impact than beach-cast or free-floating seaweed. SANZ agrees that attached seaweeds should be defined as species-specific stocks and entry into the QMS is appropriate for active management.
      • Beach-cast and free-floating seaweed should be considered together as a separate species-specific stock in each QMA area but managed separately outside the QMS with an open access fishing permit regime. This will ensure specific information gathered by CLR will give accurate information on the state of seaweed at gathering/harvest point by separate reporting on beach cast/free floating and cutting from wild stocks.

        (b) Boundaries. SANZ notes that in some cases the boundaries appear to have been drawn for administrative simplicity rather than ecological or commercial reasons. The target species is unlikely ever to be found in some of the proposed QMAs. In other cases, QMAs should be subdivided to reflect differences for appropriate management regimes. SANZ suggests that there should be further consultation with interested parties to define realistic boundaries, and that consideration be given to our concerns under (1) above.

  • Fishing Year
  • . SANZ suggests that the fishing year be set for each species separately – for example Ecklonia radiata fishing year for harvest of attached seaweeds should be allowable only from November to June to allow for the sporing period (June – November) to ensure stocks are not depleted.

    4. Unit of Measure. SANZ agrees that the unit of measure should be greenweight, but notes that seaweeds are often harvested semi-dried. It should be permissible for harvesters to weigh seaweeds in a semi-dried state and use a table of standard multiplicative factors to calculate greenweight. The precise value of the factor depends on the species and the state in which it was harvested.

    Seaweeds into the QMS: a response from SANZ

    1 Introduction

    New Zealand has the fourth longest coastline in the world concomitant with a relatively small population. The seaweed industry worldwide is worth several billion dollars, yet New Zealand is a small contributor. Accordingly, SANZ believes that it is time for sensible economic development.

    Such development must be sustainable. Sustainability is, however, difficult to define because seaweed populations are extremely variable through space and time. Consequently, SANZ advocates the development of a management system that accounts for such variability to ensure sustainability of the resource and industry..

    The notes presented below expand on our summarised responses to the first two proposals. The third proposal (fishing year) and fourth proposal (unit of measure) are fully covered in the summary.

    2 Costs and Benefits

    2.1 Sustainability

    a)SANZ wishes to see sustainable development of our seaweed resources, with an emphasis on ecological and economic ‘sustainablity’. SANZ notes that sustainability is also an MFish goal, to be achieved through the QMS as discussed in Paragraph 36 of the Consultation Document. SANZ is not convinced that the QMS is the appropriate vehicle to ensure sustainability unless there is a long-term strategic management plan overlaid. A SANZ member has listed specific concerns in a document attached as Appendix A. The concerns are discussed here in more general terms.

    b)There has been a moratorium for twelve years on new seaweed development, and prior to this there have been a number of restrictive laws, including one banning the collection of brown seaweed. Despite the moratorium, there still remains a lack of scientific knowledge on seaweed demography, particularly in response to disturbance associated with harvesting. However, an extension of the moratorium would do no good, as moratoria seem to do little more than delay activity.

    c)Seaweed is often seen as a peripheral but there is huge interdependence with other species. Marine systems have natural variations that can be as high as x 50 in some systems. SANZ suggests that the people most qualified to identify sustainable yields are the current industry stakeholders. Seaweed harvesters often observe variations in available stocks, but report only catches. Data gathering could be ‘in kind’, e.g., the seaweed industry could pass over data in return for access to boats, scientists and equipment. SANZ expresses an interest in working with NIWA to gather and collate information gained from seaweed harvesters.

    2.2 Quota allocation

    a)We are concerned about how quota will be allocated in a sustainable management framework. We believe there is no obvious mechanism to do this. Multiple rights to one area simply means ‘first in first served’, ‘second in gleans the crumbs’ and third faces a wasteland an approach which is hardly sustainable. The Ministry hope that seaweed harvesters will work together to sustainably manage seaweed in QMS is like hoping for "no rouges’-this is a no hope strategy.

    b) It has been stated that MinFish is interested in transferable rights to seaweed harvest in order to grow the industry, and get best economic gain for New Zealand. There are many potential commercial uses for seaweed but the industry will not evolve under highly speculative conditions. People will invest in industries that use seaweed when they know they can access their raw material over an extended period under sustainable conditions. It is those value-added industries that use the products from seaweed to make other products for consumers that develop and extend the real economic potential.

    c)To develop a seaweed industry for New Zealand, there needs to be certainty, transparent government actions that are not excessively expensive, and a planned management strategy that ensures the’ boom and bust’ mistakes of the past are not repeated. This situation would be counter productive both for the marine environment, other fisheries, and for the development of a seaweed industry.

    d)We are also concerned about the quota areas to be offered for tender. There is a need to minimise speculation and maximise responsible, long-term commitment to sustainability by people (a single person, a group of people, a partnership, a company) registering sites for an annual preferentially renewable fee to collect/cultivate from that area

    e) Under the present proposal QMAs are large and non-exclusive. The ‘race to catch’ becomes probable, and there is no evidence that there will be enough data to manage the system properly. Under the proposed QMS system, there is a strong incentive for the first tender winner to rapidly harvest as many sites as possible, to try to extend the quota size, thus making it more valuable. The notion of responsible information gathering and planned long-term investment in harvest regimes, re-seeding etc. will become null and void.

    2.3 Alternative approaches –Small-scale management

    SANZ suggests a 3-5 year period within which there might be a preferential tender for seaweed harvesters to hold a quota ‘lease’ on a tendered exclusive site (one area one harvester). This would provide a period within which science and industry can develop meaningful baseline information on which a sustainable industry can be built.

    Such a system could permit a licensee to work an area, that is, under controlled conditions that link seaweeder- with- scientist to carry out "weeding" and sporing" under monitored conditions. Such a progression should lead to sustainable commercial seaweed farming where local coastal industries contribute to a secured supply for national/ export focused industry development

    2.4 New players

    SANZ suggests that new entrants should be required to submit operational plans establishing their specific area, how they intend to harvest and maintain sustainability prior to gaining quota. Smaller exclusive areas will be necessary to protect the seaweed resource during the period of information gathering. Such quota should permit regional preference for industry to prohibit raiding, and to ensure minimal transport costs for a new industry.

    3 The QMAs

    3.1 Non-attached seaweeds

    a)SANZ notes that the Consultation Document does not distinguish between beach-cast, free-floating and attached seaweeds. Cut seaweed is likely to provide for high-value industries, and is likely to have a greater environmental impact than beach-cast or free-floating seaweed. SANZ agrees that attached seaweeds should be defined as species-specific stocks and managed within the QMS. Beach-cast and free-floating seaweed should be considered together as a separate species-specific stock in each QMA area but managed outside the QMA system. This will ensure that information collected via catch landing records clearly reports the levels cut from the sea as distinct from beachcast/free floating. It will also provide valuable data for the future to assess environmental impact.

    b) We regard beach-cast and cut seaweed as separate entities, and note that a large amount of beachcast cannot occur unless the yield naturally growing is large. There is no evidence of anything other than a very second order effect on the ecology at sea from removing beachcast, and mathematically it is extremely difficult to demonstrate significance. As one of us has personally observed washes of hundreds of tonne per kilometre, it is doubtful that any detectable difference could occur from taking it from such large washes.

    c) In the case of Ecklonia radiata no cutting from wild stocks should occur during the six month reproductive period from June – November. If simple measures such as separate reporting for beach cast/free floating is in place, provision for industry to alternate between the two states for continuity of supply and ecological sustainability is enhanced.

    d) To ensure ecological sustainability each one of the seven seaweed species proposed for introduction into the QMS will require a period of closed access to harvesting from the sea for reproductive purposes. Min Fish would be the appropriate body to set and enforce these annual closed periods.

    3.2 Boundaries

    SANZ notes that in some cases the boundaries appear to have been drawn for administrative simplicity rather than ecological reasons. The target species is unlikely ever to be found in some of the proposed QMAs. In other cases QMAs should be subdivided to reflect differences in management regimes. SANZ suggests that there should be further consultation to define realistic boundaries.    back to top

    Note:  SANZ agrees with and supports the attached appendix from Dr. Tim Haggitt

    Appendix A. Ecological considerations: a contribution from Dr.Tim Haggitt

    Seaweeds are dominant and important components of temperate and boreal subtidal rocky reefs worldwide (see Schiel and Foster 1986). Stands of seaweeds may alter coastal currents and sedimentation patterns (Jackson and Winant 1983, Eckman et al. 1989, Steneck et al. 2002) and seaweed-derived detritus forms the basis of complex food webs (Tenore et al. 1984, Duggins et al. 1989). Moreover, macroalgal assemblages afford both food and habitat to fishes (Jones 1984, Choat and Ayling 1987, Carr 1989, Levin 1994), meiofauna (Arrontes 1990, Taylor and Cole 1994, Taylor 1998) and macroinvertebrates (Gaines 1985, Andrew 1988, Johnson and Mann 1988).

    Within an ecological context, the individual species that constitute macroalgal communities are often classified according to their resilience to disturbance (c.f. Dayton et al. 1984; and see Johnson and Mann 1988 for variants of this theme). Resilience is largely measured by successional patterns following disturbance, which often bring into play inter- and intra-specific algal interactions (Schiel 1988). Relatively small-scale (< 1-10s m) disturbances tend to be followed by rapid recolonisation of the antecedent species (Schiel 1988, Dayton et al. 1992, 1999), whereas succession following large-scale disturbance (100-1000s m), particularly in highly tiered multi-species assemblages, can be exceedingly complex and post-disturbance recovery may take years (Dayton et al. 1999). However, one of the most important elements independent of scale is the timing of disturbance relative to the reproductive status and dispersal capabilities of the component species (Sousa 1984, Dayton et al. 1984, Schiel and Foster 1986, Schiel 1988). The availability of "safe-sites" for propagule growth is also fundamental (Reed 1990). For New Zealand species, post-disturbance successional patterns are poorly understood (but see Schiel 1988, Cole and Babcock 1996, Haggitt and Babcock 2003 for examples) and because of this, we must tread very carefully.

    Main concern: Why is there the importunate need to place seaweeds into a QMS framework? - given that the seaweed industry to date is relatively small-scale and so little is known about short and long-term effects of harvesting e.g., refer to Appendix 2 – Consultation document for the paucity of information concerning species demography and distribution.

    Should not the logical way forward be: 1) determine the current distribution and abundance of main seaweed species within New Zealand; 2) determine the best way each seaweed species can be harvested (i.e., appropriate size of plants and area to be removed, time of removal, can plants be harvested at all…etc)? This information could then be used to determine the most sustainable approach to harvesting and 3) develop proper management systems (e.g., code of practices, monitoring catch rates, assessing ecosystem level effects and determining QMA’s)

    Realistically, this approach may take at least 5 years to obtain quality quantitative data, but it is essential that this information be known before any seaweeds are harvested or placed into a QMS framework.

    • With regard to QMA’s, I feel that these should not be put in place until the outcomes of the above study are known. In addition, each area must have its own protocol, i.e., the strategy for sustainable harvesting of Ecklonia in north-eastern New Zealand would undoubtedly be completely unsuitable for harvesting Ecklonia in New Plymouth and Wellington areas.
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    Arrontes J (1999) On the evolution of interactions between marine mesoherbivores and algae. Bot Mar 42:137-155

    Carr MH (1989) Effects of macroalgal assemblages on the recruitment of temperate zone reef fishes. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 126:59-76

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