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Picking among the Ruins: Which Way Forward in Managing the Bluff Oyster Fishery?

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Knight, Peter
Conference: Workshop on the Workshop 3
Location: Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Conf. Date: June 2-6, 2004
Date: 2004
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1362
Sector: Fisheries
Region: Pacific and Australia
Subject(s): oysters
marine resources
property rights
Abstract: "The town of Bluff on the Foveaux Strait in southern New Zealand is the centre of the world's richest and last remaining wild oyster fishery. For over 150 years many generation of oyster fishers have engaged in a vibrant economy that has sustained the town and established a unique relationship of people to land. But today the fishery is in ruins from overfishing and disease. Dredges have mined the seafloor of Foveaux Strait until very little remains of the original seafloor benthos from which the oyster beds developed. The oyster-killing disease bonamia is rampant, and the productivity of the fishery is only a small fraction of what it once was. The demise of the Bluff oysters is matched by a social breakdown of the oyster fishing culture of Bluff. The introduction of individual transferable quotas to the fishery resulted in the dispossession of many oyster fishers. A number of conservationminded fishermen with long histories in managing the fishery are presently excluded from an official role, excluding with them an important diversity of opinion. "Management of the Bluff oyster fishery has historically taken place within a framework of interactions between the national and the local level. This framework changed dramatically in the mid-nineties with the introduction of the Quota Management System (QMS). Together with the institution of individual transferable quotas, the QMS has led to a perception in the community that the fishery has been captured by the quota-owners, who, operating under a commercial paradigm, fail to acknowledge the extent of the environmental crisis that has been caused by the history of exploitation in the fishery. The quota-owners are organized under the umbrella of an industrial consortium know as the Bluff Oyster Management Company (BOMC). The BOMC derives its power from the Ministry of Fisheries (MFish), whose policy it is to devolve management power to quota owners."

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