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Identifying fisheries regions in New Zealand: Some conceptual difficulties

The importance of fisheries to nations is reflected in the production and employment statistics of the country. It is also reflected in socio-cultural symbols (for instance songs, tales), and in socio-political hegemonies. Just as these may vary from one nation to another, they may also vary from region to region within a nation. Several nations speak openly in terms of 'fisheries regions' and there have been a number of attempts to identify such regions in the social science literature. An understanding of these regions is seen as step towards defining appropriate policies for the sustainable management of their resources. In 1986, New Zealand established an innovative fishery management system based on individually transferable quota (ITQ), and subsequently removed the (never-implemented) region-based, fishery management planning structure from the statutes. These changes might be indicative of a loss of geography, a flattening of the nation's "fishing topography", and might be expected to result in significant changes to the nature and location of fisheries regions. This paper outlines the changes in the management structure of New Zealand's fisheries. We then attempt a preliminary analysis of fisheries regions in New Zealand as the basis for a "new regional" geography of New Zealand's fisheries. In the process we discuss various criteria for defining fishery regions and present our initial categorisation of New Zealand into those regions. The relationship between these regions and related institutional structures is then discussed. This raises a number of additional questions regarding the concept of a fisheries region, especially in the context of a resurgent indigenous (Maaori) culture, the emergence of new fishing peoples in New Zealand, and the respective size of recreational and commercial fishing sectors.
Conference Contribution
Type of thesis
Rennie, H.G. & Holmes, N. (1998). Paper presented at the Canadian Association of Geographers (CAG) Conference, 2-6 June 1998, Ottawa.
© 1998 Hamish G. Rennie and Nicola Holmes