Appendix: Our 2002 inquiry recommendations

Department of Conservation: Administration of the Conservation Services Programme – Follow-up audit.

Justification for funding research as a conservation service: Research into the black petrel

We recommend that:

  • DOC provides clear justification of the relationship between a research project and the effect of commercial fishing on the particular protected species, and the levy associated with the research.

In the case of the black petrel research project, we recommend that:

  • DOC reconsiders the adequacy of the evidence as to whether commercial fishing has an adverse effect on the black petrel population.
  • Should DOC remain of the view that commercial fishing has an adverse effect on the black petrel population, it justifies that view by demonstrating:
    • the current or potential adverse effect that commercial fishing has on the black petrel population;
    • the extent of that effect; and
    • how the research relates to that current or potential adverse effect, or concerns measures to mitigate that effect.

In order to reduce the risk of challenge to the validity of the levy Order in relation to any particular conservation service, the Minister of Fisheries should receive explicit assurance from the Minister of Conservation that any conservation services project for which the fishing industry is levied is a “conservation service” as defined in the Fisheries Act.

Application of the cost recovery rules: Research into the New Zealand sea lion

While we found that, in this case, DOC had applied the rules appropriately, DOC should demonstrate to stakeholders in all cases that the cost recovery framework has been applied, and the rationale for the apportionment of costs to the industry is fully justified.

DOC should consider:

  • improving the methodology for estimating risk to protected species populations from human activities;
  • preparing an approved population management plan for the New Zealand sea lion under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978;
  • assessing the desirability of formal incentives to reduce the by-catch; and
  • improving the procedures to resolve disputes about risk estimation and assessment of cost recovery.

Consulting on the conservation services plan

We recommend that:

  • DOC invites parties to make written submissions on the draft plan, then circulates those submissions to all parties before the consultation meeting.
  • DOC continues to ensure that all parties are aware of the documents being circulated.

Information on over- and under- recovery of costs

We recommend that:

  • DOC provides the Ministry with timely information on the Programme’s expenditure as soon as possible after the end of each financial year. In turn, the Ministry needs to give DOC timely information on services provided by the Ministry for relevant projects (such as observer days).
  • The Ministry ensures that in future it provides the Minister of Fisheries with the information the Minister is required to consider under section 265 of the Fisheries Act.

Management of the Observer Programme

We recommend that DOC:

  • makes the reconciled information on observer days available to interested parties;
  • works with the Ministry of Fisheries and the fishing industry to ensure that all observer days levied take place.

A strategic plan for the Conservation Services Programme

We recommend that DOC prepares a strategic plan for the Conservation Services Programme that includes the elements set out in paragraph 8.6.

Accountability for the Conservation Services Programme

We recommend that DOC includes in the approved Conservation Services Plan more information about the research budgets, timetables, and progress against research objectives – especially for multi-year projects.

Implementing the results of conservation services research

We recommend that DOC, working with the Ministry, takes a more active and timely role in ensuring that research findings are translated, where appropriate, into improved fishing practices.

We recommend that DOC establishes a more transparent process for considering whether research findings indicate any need for changes in the direction and content of the Conservation Services Programme.

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