New Zealand's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is the fourth largest in the world, covering 1.3 million square nautical miles. The zone is almost 15 times the land area, though 65% of it is too deep for, or is closed to, commercial fishing.
New Zealand leads the world in its initiatives to ensure the careful and sustainable management of fishing through its Quota Management System (QMS). The QMS operates by limiting the total catch allowed from each fishery while ensuring quota holders have maximum flexibility in how they harvest their catch.
Each year the Ministry of Primary Industries sets the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) for the following fishing season. The TACC is based on annual stock assessments, catch monitoring and landed catches. From this information, the Ministry is able to adjust the commercial catch according to the abundance of fish stocks.
The TACC generates an Annual Catch Entitlement (ACE) for the year for each quota owner, based upon the number of quota shares owned. ACE is expressed in tonnes of fish and can be traded between commercial fishers.
Quota is a property right in New Zealand. Ngāi Tahu is a major owner of quota shares as an outcome of the Treaty Fisheries Settlements of 1989 and 1992. As such, Ngāi Tahu Seafood invests considerable energy into supporting the sustainable management of fisheries. This is vital for the future of the business as well as the values of the iwi (tribe). Iwi fishing forums and industry stakeholder groups work closely with the Ministry of Primary Industries to ensure fish stocks are well managed and the assessment of individual fish stocks (using scientific data) matches up with what is being observed by Ngāi Tahu and other fishers on the water.