It is a fundamental principle of the Conservation Services Programme that once a bycatch problem is successfully addressed, levies will no longer be charged for that interaction. It is, therefore, in the best interests of fishers to collaborate with researchers, especially in the development of mitigation measures. This has been the experience in New Zealand.
Although the Conservation Services is only 5% of the total amount of levies charged to the commercial fishing industry, some fishers have complained that the additional costs of the Conservation Services Levies are making some fisheries uneconomic. The average Conservation Services Levy is 0.14% of port price, but some important fish stocks are higher, eg Hoki 1 is 0.25% and Squid 6T is 1.67%.
Each year, the Department of Conservation produces a draft paper (the draft ‘Annual Plan’) outlining, with indicative costs, the programmes it wishes to propose for funding through the Conservation Services Levy process.
Stakeholders in the consultation process (including the fishing industry, Maori, scientific and environmental groups) are invited to comment on the proposed programme which may be modified in light of comments received.
This draft plan is informed by the Conservation Services Strategic Plan and the draft Conservation Services Five-year Research Plan. The seabird-related component of the Conservation Services Programme Research plan was incorporated into a research plan to assist the implementation of the National Plan of Action - Seabirds.
The Minister of Conservation is responsible for approving the final work programme together with the costs to be levied. The Minister of Fisheries is responsible for allocating to each fishstock (and therefore quota holders) the proportion of these work programme costs to be paid. This is done through an annual Order in Council (Levy Order).
The Ministry of Fisheries calculates, invoices and collects the conservation services levy, and the Department of Conservation simply receives an adjustment to its ‘Vote Conservation’, i.e. the baseline funding it receives from The Treasury.