In what sense a fisheries problem? : negotiating sustainable growth in New Zealand fisheries

by Rees, Eugene Bruce

Abstract (Summary)
This thesis addresses the question of how seafood enterprises grow in a constrained resource economy and, specifically, examines the performance of New Zealand’s seafood sector since the introduction of the quota management system in 1986. It explores whether the quota management system and individual transferable quota have led to an increase in industry performance and competitiveness. Conventional theoretical arguments for the institution of quota management and transferable quota propose that re-regulation will lead to efficiency, and by implication, profitability gains for the seafood sector. A process-based methodological framework, utilising complementary methodological practices and triangulation using both qualitative and quantitative approaches is employed to examine New Zealand fishing enterprises across a number of scales. Forty subjects were formally interviewed throughout the fishing sector in Nelson, Marlborough, Wellington and Auckland. Informal ongoing conversations with many of the interview subjects, amongst others, in a number of fora (academic and industry conferences, wharves and dockside) also enriched the research. The thesis integrates ideas from political economy in order to begin to answer questions concerning the prospects for sustainability and development. The thesis is about what happens when we consider dimensions that are largely missing in the international literature on fisheries (the firm, region and communities, and territory, resources and markets). This thesis proposes that we must avoid treating quota management systems, individual transferable quota and associated property rights reforms as monolithic. Rather, New Zealand’s quota management system is geographically constituted and co-constructed by stakeholders who play ongoing and changing roles in an emergent dialogue concerning sustainable fisheries, fisheries management and commercial fishing in New Zealand. The thesis finds that volume and value of seafood has increased. However, this increase is largely at the expense of first foreign fishing companies and part-time fishermen, and later small independent fishermen. There has been a rationalisation of fishing effort allied with an increased emphasis in growing more product and more value through aquaculture and value-adding strategies. New geographies of production are emerging and some of these geographies may prove to be unsustainable. Lastly, firms that fish, and particularly quota owners, are actively inserting themselves into debates concerning sustainability, sustainable development and fisheries management in expected ways that have led to unintended and ongoing political and governmental reconfigurations of fisheries in New Zealand.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Dr Gordon Winder; Professor Richard Le Heron

School:The University of Auckland / Te Whare Wananga o Tamaki Makaurau

School Location:New Zealand

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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