Understanding the implications of Changing Ocean Temperature on Māori Seafood Businesses

Tony Craig & Katherine Short - IIRC20
Friday, November 20, 2020

Occurring in the marine environment, seafood production is subject to environmental change. Whether produced by aquaculture farming or wild harvest fishing operations, currents, weather, temperature and other environmental factors affect growth rates, and for wild harvest, where and when target species occur. For example, in wild harvest, certain species are known to be present when specific water temperatures can be expected, and fishers use their experience and knowledge to find and target them in these locations.

Building on the 25 year hindcast model of temperature at differing depth profiles in the Bay of Plenty developed for the Moana Project by MetOcean Solutions, this sub-project is designed to explore how to integrate and interrogate datasets from Māori commecial seafood interests in relation to temperature. The intention being that the back cast integration of datasets may inform future scenarios for seafood production in a changing climate. This contributes to the Moana Project He Papa Moana workstream “Informing Iwi Interests.”

New Zealand’s quota management system (QMS) is a rights-based system of access and utilisation. Māori through the 1992 Fisheries Settlement Act were allocated percentage interests in all fish stocks within the QMS and aquaculture space (both previous and future allocations). Māori derive both annual income for the use or lease of those rights plus balance sheet wealth from the value of holding such rights. Both can be affected by changing fish stock or on farm performances.

An initial conceptual framework will be presented. It includes eight key parameters against which to collect data for analysis. These structure the study in relation to target species (Age, Length), the marine environment (Temperature, Depth, Location, Currents) and wider context (Moon, Timing/Season). For exploration is the relevant mātauranga in relation to each key parameter.

A Te Reo name was gifted for this conceptual framework of Te Rua O Māhu which is the Māori term for the Coal Sack Nebula, an octagonal (8 sided) black hole associated with the Southern Cross constellation. It is also known as the Doorway to the 12th Heaven. We draw parallels between the unknowns beyond the Nebulae, the unknown impacts that climate change may have upon wild seafood/farm production and the evolving framework of dataset integration between oceanographic and climate science and commercial seafood records including economics.