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.

What’s the Catch? The state of recreational fisheries management in New Zealand
The Overseas Catch: The state of recreational fisheries management abroad
The final report will be released later in 2017.



Phone: +64 4 494 9102


Recent Work

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
Fishing BC

Recreational fisheries face future quotas

Putting a line in the water is one of the more popular New Zealand pastimes. But here’s a harsh truth. Unless the management of recreational fisheries changes, fishers will face a steady decline in daily bag limits, increases in minimum legal sizes and shorter fishing seasons. The recreational fishing experience will worsen as will conflicts between the recreational and commercial sectors.The New Zealand Initiative’s previous report in this series, What’s the Catch? The state of recreational fisheries management in New Zealand, shows how maintaining an outdated... Read more

Dr Randall Bess
The National Business Review
21 April, 2017
Randall dicusses Overseas Catch

Dr Randall Bess on The Overseas Catch and fisher exchange

The Overseas Catch: The state of recreational fisheries management abroad author, Dr Randall Bess, discusses his overseas research trip. He travelled to the Gulf of Mexico, northern California, British Columbia and Western Australia to learn more about how these locations manage their recreational fisheries - what worked well, what didn't and what can New Zealand learn? Read more

Dr Randall Bess
21 April, 2017
Rec fishing

The unknown-knowns of government officials

Former US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, is famous for his reference to known-knowns, known-unknowns and unknown-unknowns.In other words, there are things we know we know, things we know we don’t know, and things we don’t know we don’t know.A seasoned government official might sympathise with Mr Rumsfeld, knowing that as policy reform enters the public arena, there are untold opportunities for known-unknowns and unknown-unknowns to appear, surprising a government used to working with known-knowns.In contrast, most academics thrive on... Read more

Dr Randall Bess
Insights Newsletter
21 April, 2017
The Overseas Catch cover

Rec fishing abroad - Newstalk ZB

The latest report in our fisheries project, The Overseas Catch: The state of recreational fisheries management abroad, was released today. Report author, Dr Randall Bess, discussed how recreational fisheries are manged in the four locations he visited (British Columbia, the Gulf of Mexico, northern California and Western Australia) on Newstalk ZB. Read more

Dr Randall Bess
Newstalk ZB
19 April, 2017
Douglas Myers

Tribute to Sir Douglas Myers (1938 - 2017)

Sir Douglas Myers, well known and respected for his business and philanthropic interests and recognised as such, died this last week at the age of 78 after a long battle with cancer. Sir Douglas was also known for his lifelong passion for fishing. With considerable enthusiasm, he would talk about having fished for more than 70 years from Whitianga to North Cape. His keen interest in fishing was the impetus for The New Zealand Initiative’s fisheries project. Read more

Dr Randall Bess
Insights Newsletter
13 April, 2017
fish bucket

Time to address a longstanding fisheries problem

Einstein once said that we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. The thinking behind the management of New Zealand’s recreational fisheries is a case in point. It began decades ago as a hands-off approach when recreational fishing was a marginal activity that did not pose much of a threat to fish stock sustainability.   The management thinking has largely remained hands-off, despite continual increases in demand for recreational fishing, along with competition... Read more

Dr Randall Bess
Insights Newsletter
24 March, 2017

Fishing just for the halibut

Fisheries management in New Zealand has been resting on its laurels for too long. The Quota Management System was once world-leading. But misreporting catches and illegal discarding have been troublesome. And the split between recreational and commercial shares of a total allowable catch (TAC) remains a political fight. I travelled to British Columbia (BC) last year to see how fisheries management is approached there. What was of particular interest was that BC has integrated a recreational fishery into a quota-based... Read more

Dr Randall Bess
Insights Newsletter
20 January, 2017
rIDssQTLODA screenshot

Interview with John Harrison of WAFIC

While in Fremantle, Western Australia, our Research Fellow, Dr Randall Bess, spent some time with John Harrison, CEO of the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council. With a background in both recreational and commercial fishing, Mr Harrison considers it is imperative that both sectors collaborate to find workable solutions to fisheries problems Read more

Dr Randall Bess
23 December, 2016

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