Why Trident Systems?

The rationale for Trident Systems

Trident Systems is a seafood industry-owned research provider.

Incentives for quota owners

New Zealand’s quota management system (QMS) provides strong incentives for industry organisations to be involved in the delivery of services.

The QMS establishes Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) in New Zealand’s commercial fisheries. ITQs are a form of property right.

“ITQs, with adequate enforcement, have been demonstrated to effectively address the race to fish and result in improved sustainability and profitability.

It is often suggested that the possession of ITQs should provide an incentive for fishers to exercise stewardship of the resource. Quota holders acting in their economic self-interest should collectively exercise stewardship, setting TACs and supporting enforcement measures to maximize the present value of future profit streams.”

  • Parslow (2010)1

“Setting and enforcing sensible fisheries management rules is crucial for a good economic performance of the fishing activity.

it is well known that governments, due to fundamental problems of information and incentives, tend to be inefficient providers of services in general. Indeed, fisheries management conducted by many governments has been found to be both ineffective and expensive.

under an ITQ system, the holders of ITQs are well placed to conduct the necessary fisheries management functions themselves. Moreover, there are many indications that they are able to provide these services significantly more efficiently than the government.”

  • Arnason (2007)2

The importance of ITQs in fisheries management is not universally accepted

Bromley (2009)3 is critical of the importance attributed to ITQs in fisheries management (see also the comments and discussion published alongside that paper). However, secure property rights continue to be identified as key components of sustainable fisheries management regimes. Holmes et al. (2014)4 suggest three key enablers of sustainable and profitable fisheries:

  • Secure tenure aligns the incentives and empowers the fishing industry to pursue sustainable use of the resource
  • Sustainable harvests determine how much fish can be caught sustainably and enable the creation of both management and investment frameworks
  • Monitoring and enforcement provide assurance that fishers will comply with sustainable management and reduce the chance of illegal activity that could undermine the transition

The establishment of Trident Systems is an example of quota owners investing to provide information that contributes to the setting of sustainable harvests and efficient monitoring of fisheries


Key research and information needs that motivated the establishment of Trident Systems were:

  • the need for efficient data collection for fisheries management, especially from inshore finfish fisheries
  • a desire to realise greater value from fisheries data
  • a recognition of the need to evaluate and implement management procedures to enable timely management of lower information stocks

Research integrity

The integrity of the research undertaken by the seafood industry has been questioned by some commentators. Within New Zealand, research intended or likely to inform fisheries management decisions is evaluated against the Research and Science Information Standard for New Zealand Fisheries (RSIS).

“The primary, internationally-accepted mechanism for evaluating the quality of research and science information is peer review”

  • Ministry for Primary Industries (2011)5

The RSIS establishes peer review as the principal process used to ensure the quality of scientific methods, results and conclusions. As a result, the RSIS is intrinsically an output standard enabling a range of providers, including industry organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations, to carry out research that is evaluated against the Standard.

  1. Parslow, J. (2010). Individual transferable quotas and the “tragedy of the commons”. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 67(11), 1889-1896. 

  2. Arnason, R. (2007). Fisheries self-management under ITQs. Marine Resource Economics, 22(4), 373-390. 

  3. Bromley, D. W. (2009). Abdicating responsibility: the deceits of fisheries policy. Fisheries, 34(6), 280-290. 

  4. Holmes, L., Strauss, C. K., de Vos, K., & Bonzon, K. (2014). Towards investment in sustainable fisheries: a framework for financing the transition. Environmental Defense Fund and The Prince of Wales’ International Sustainability Unit. 

  5. Ministry for Primary Industries (2011). Research and Science Information Standard for New Zealand Fisheries. Available here