Steve Mackinson’s Blog: Rock Lobster

Steve is living in New Zealand for six months to spend time with the Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC). Steve wants to better understand how the Council successfully brings scientists and fishermen together, through promoting industry’s involvement in research, data analysis and policy advice. You can see all his blog posts here.


Having spent the last two days observing the National Rock Lobster Management Group meetings, I’m struck by the atmosphere of transparency and genuine efforts to resolve issues.

While sectoral conflicts remain about issues of allocation and access, the principle of always working to ensure sustainable stock levels is an anchor of consensus.  There’s an argument that keeping this as the number one goal is the path to keeping all happy. Focus on the stocks and the societal benefits will follow.

For the commercial guys its simple: when stocks are abundant, they can focus their efforts on the achieving the best product and value from their fisheries.

For the recreational guys, high stock abundance goes along way to satisfying their objectives for ‘a fishing experience and opportunities that meet public expectations’.   So despite differences in how the rewards of fishing are measured, a shared goal of high abundance goes a long way to helping resolve the practical issues about resource sharing.

I also witnessed firsthand how overcoming a sense of injustice by levelling the playing field on management across sectors can bring down barriers that prevent progress on other issues.  Perceptions of fairness and inequity go hand in hand with trust and collaboration. The multi-stakeholder setting provided the environment for agreeing actions to resolve it.


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