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New Zealand Fisheries Management Well Placed for New Approach

23 November 2015

NEW ZEALAND - New Zealand fisheries are well placed to remain at the forefront of managing the marine environment, a leading American economist says.

New Zealand can be proud of its leadership in establishing ownership claims to fisheries under the Quota Management System (QMS), Dr Terry Anderson says.

Dr Anderson, a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), Montana, and Stanford University, delivered a speech in Wellington tonight hosted by the Law and Economics Association of New Zealand (LEANZ) and the law firm Chapman Tripp.

The QMS laid the foundation for perpetual rights to a share of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC), making those rights an asset, which can be traded and used as a collateral in credit markets, he says.

The QMS exemplifies how property rights lead to stewardship by giving owners a stake in the immediate returns from efficient harvesting techniques and in future returns from sustaining or growing stock, Dr Anderson says.

Increased demand for environmental amenities and competition for scarce natural resources require rethinking how we manage our natural environment, he says.

“The dominant management institutions have focused on top-down command-and-control regulations. Though some of these regulations have been successful in picking low-hanging environmental fruit – especially in reducing air and water emissions – they have not harnessed private initiative by using property rights and markets.

“This approach under the banner of ‘free market environmentalism’ shows remarkable promise for dealing with a variety of environmental problems.

“The success of fisheries management in New Zealand illustrates the potential of this approach. Other countries are following the New Zealand lead and the time is ripe for New Zealand to extend its approach to ensure that good incentives are applied across all fisheries sectors – not just commercial fishers. Environmental markets offer a promising alternative for the next generation of environmentalism,” Dr Anderson says.

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