NEW ZEALAND: fishing rights at no cost for Maoris. Is this a subsidy?

Hereunder is an extract of the Minutes of Meeting on the WTO's TRADE POLICY REVIEW of NEW ZEALAND. The meeting took place on 12 and 14 May 2003.

The document can be found at the WTO's website. It has the reference T/TPR/M/115/Add.1 of 17 June 2003.

I leave to the reader to judge on whether this allocation of fishing rights is a subsidy or not.

IV. TRADE POLICIES BY SECTOR; (2) Agriculture; (v) Fisheries

34. (para 23) The report states: "[…] The TAC is set in order to ensure that the greatest yield can be achieved over time while maintaining the stock's productive capacity; in addition, where non-commercial users are involved (such as Maori or recreational fishers), a quantity of stock is set aside for them before the commercial catch (TACC) is established. […] When a new species is introduced to the QMS, 20% of the catch of all ITQs is allocated to Maori. The remaining quota is distributed amongst people holding commercial fishing permits for each species, based on how much they caught during the "qualifying years". Any remaining ITQ may be tendered off by the Crown." According to information available from the Ministry of Fisheries (www.fish.govt.nz/) and "Te Ohu Kai Moana (TOKM)", in English "Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission" (www.tokm.co.nz/), Maori are involved in commercial fisheries in New Zealand. The web site of the TOKM states that “assets held by the Fisheries Commission, Maori currently own or control more than 33 percent of New Zealand’s commercial fishing quota.” This web site provides also information from which it appears that the “Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission” currently owns a substantial share in the New Zealand’s companies active in commercial fisheries.

35. Could New Zealand confirm that the 20% allocation for Maori on new species entering the QMS (Quota Management System) is made at no cost?

Answer - The 20% allocation to Maori is made at no cost. It is the result of the settlement of Maori fisheries claims against the Crown in 1992, and the passing of the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992.

36. Could New Zealand provide information on the value, in money terms, of the yearly quota allocations to Maori for commercial fishing purposes, for the years 1998-2002?

Answer - The current value of the fishing quota allocations held by Maori is approximately NZ$700 million.

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