Natural resource management regimes should be reviewed periodically, to ensure they are still effective and fit economic, social, cultural, technical and environmental contexts.
JPEC Ltd was contracted by the New Zealand Government’s Department of Conservation (DOC), to lead and project manage a review of whitebait management in New Zealand. Whitebait are six species of indigenous fish that inhabit freshwater and marine habitats at different stages of their lives. Four of the six species are at risk of extinction or threatened. Habitat degradation and fishing pressure are key issues for whitebait, and the whitebait fishing regulations have not been reviewed for more 25 years.
The review of whitebait management started with an extensive public and expert engagement process, co-designed by DOC and Māori subject matter experts and led by JPEC. This engagement process demonstrated that there was strong support for improving whitebait management, including strengthening regulatory controls on whitebait fishing and addressing habitat loss. Then, JPEC led the development of a set of regulatory change proposals for formal public consultation. The consultation process involved producing a detailed document describing options for regulatory change, working with iwi and Māori, and a roadshow. After consultation, a summary of submissions was published. Having considered feedback received through public engagement, consultation, and expert technical inputs, final recommendations for regulatory change were provided to the Minister of Conservation.
Critical to the successful completion of this complex project were JPEC’s team management, analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills, knowledge of the public policy process, and the ability to deliver high-quality outcomes in a dynamic environment characterised by strong and diverse views.
Outputs of the review included full documentation of the process and its findings (available here), identification of key work areas to support improved whitebait management, and advice to the Minister of Conservation on recommended regulatory changes for the whitebait fishery. Following Cabinet approval, regulatory changes to the whitebait fishery were announced in June 2021.