Part 1: Introduction

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

Our previous inquiry

In 2002, we reported1 on an inquiry that we undertook into the way the Department of Conservation (DOC) managed the Conservation Services Programme.

The Conservation Services Programme is a research programme within DOC’s Marine Conservation Unit. The Programme’s objectives are–

  1. To understand the nature and extent of adverse effects from commercial fishing activities on protected species in New Zealand fisheries waters.
  2. To develop effective solutions to mitigate adverse effects of commercial fishing on protected species in New Zealand fisheries waters.2

Funding for some of the Conservation Services Programme is collected from the fishing industry via a levy (the Conservation Services Levy).

The inquiry resulted from a complaint from the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council Limited (SeaFIC). SeaFIC raised a number of issues about the Conservation Services Programme:

  • the justification for funding research as a conservation service;
  • the application of cost recovery rules;
  • consultation on the annual plan;
  • information on the under- or over-recovery of costs;
  • management of the observer programme; and
  • strategic planning for the Conservation Services Programme.

Our inquiry identified 2 issues in addition to those raised by SeaFIC:

  • accountability for the Conservation Services Programme; and
  • implementing the results of conservation services research.

How we conducted our follow-up audit

We followed up on the recommendations made in our 2002 report, to determine what progress has been made.

We asked questions of DOC managers, staff of the Ministry of Fisheries, SeaFIC, the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand, and commercial fishing companies. We reviewed documentation from DOC and the Ministry of Fisheries.

In the rest of this report, we discuss the recommendations made in 2002, the progress made in implementing those recommendations, and our conclusions.

1: Report of the Controller and Auditor-General (December 2002), Department of Conservation: Administration of the Conservation Services Programme, ISBN 0-478-18100-0.

2: Section 1.4.4 of the Conservation Services Programme’s draft Strategic Plan 2005-10.

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