Final Randall Bess

Dr Randall Bess

Research Fellow

Randall has researched and published articles on New Zealand’s management of fisheries, including the seafood industry and conflicts between the commercial and non-commercial fishing sectors. He also worked for the former Ministry of Fisheries (and the Ministry for Primary Industries) for 13 years. Before immigrating to New Zealand, he commercially fished in Alaska.

At the Initiative, Randall is the Research Fellow for our fisheries project. This work involves a series of three reports that contribute to the debate on what needs to be fixed within the recreational fishing space. When the project ends, policy recommendations will be made to the new government.

Randall is available to comment on recent developments for addressing growing pressures on limited fisheries resources. The aim of these developments is to better ensure recreational fishing remains an enjoyable pastime and source of food for many New Zealanders. He can also speak about how recreational fisheries are managed overseas, having visited several locations abroad for his second report.

Latest reports:
The Future Catch: Preserving Recreational Fisheries for the Next Generation (2017)
The Overseas Catch: The state of recreational fisheries management abroad (2017)
What's the Catch?: The state of recreational fisheries management in New Zealand (2016)

Phone: +64 4 494 9102


Recent Work

Rec fishing

New Zealand's inshore fisheries - a game of chicken

With some exceptions, there is a distinct lack of co-operation among the various interests in New Zealand’s inshore fisheries. The lack of co-operation worsens as competition increases for limited fisheries resources. This is largely due to each interest asserting its rights of access to the resources prevail over others. There is no easy solution to this standoff. It is a classic game-theory problem known as the game of chicken, which was first popularised in the movie, Rebel Without a Cause. Read more

Dr Randall Bess
The National Business Review
15 September, 2017
IMG 2169

The Future of Recreational Fishing in NZ

The New Zealand Initiative's Dr Randall Bess and Geoff Rowling from Our Fishing Future, speak to Radio New Zealand about the future of recreational fishing in New Zealand. Throughout August and September, Dr Bess will be travelling the country holding public meetings to gather feedback from local fishing communities and discuss the draft recommendations in his latest report, 'The Future Catch: Preserving Recreational Fisheries for the Next Generation'. Read more

Dr Randall Bess
Radio New Zealand
22 August, 2017

Sharing the cost of managing inshore fisheries

Hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders fish each year. Fishing is integral to the Kiwi way of life.We know fishing provides social, cultural and psychological benefits. It also provides economic benefits but there is much misinformation about these benefits.Nonetheless, fishing for fun and food remains a low priority for management purposes. In contrast, commercial fishing attracts the bulk of management attention.Funding differences explain the discrepancy between the management of recreational and commercial fisheries. Read more

Dr Randall Bess
The National Business Review
4 August, 2017

Changing and preserving the recreational right to fish

You may not have read Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s The Leopard but you probably know the novel’s most famous line, “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.” To change things so they can stay the same – that is the gist of our new fisheries report The Future Catch. We released it for consultation on Tuesday. The report’s starting point are the things that should stay the same. Read more

Dr Randall Bess
Insights Newsletter
4 August, 2017
camera on fishing boat

A world-leading solution?

The 2017 Budget brought a boost to fisheries management intended to enhance New Zealand’s much-touted world-leading Quota Management System. The Minister for Primary Industries announced $30.5 million towards a world-leading Integrated Electronic Monitoring and Reporting System (IEMRS). According to the Minister, IEMRS will provide us with “the most transparent and accountable commercial fishery anywhere in the world … every fishing vessel can be monitored at all times … and any illegal activity dealt with.” The Minister and the Ministry for... Read more

Dr Randall Bess
Insights Newsletter
9 June, 2017
Australia brick

Media release: New Zealanders inspired by Western Australian fisheries

Wellington (31 May 2017): Western Australia shows what is possible when competing fishing sectors collaborate in fisheries management, say delegates from across New Zealand’s fishing sectors.The New Zealand Initiative and the US-based Environmental Defense Fund last week led a group of New Zealanders involved in the recreational, commercial and customary fishing sectors to learn from Western Australia’s example.Dr Randall Bess, from The New Zealand Initiative, says “New Zealand’s fisheries management has been increasingly contentious. Read more

Dr Randall Bess
31 May, 2017
fish netting

The public deserve the "true facts"

The former British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, was known for saying it would be a mistake to keep the “true facts” from the public. Basically, we hope our political leaders and their advisors will follow Churchill’s advice. Regrettably, though, political expediency often wins out. In May 2016, Auckland University released a report regarding widespread historical misreporting of fish catches and discarding of unwanted bycatch. Our political leaders and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) advisors were quick to deny any big... Read more

Dr Randall Bess
Insights Newsletter
5 May, 2017

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