Discussion Paper for SeaFIC Meeting - December 3rd 1997

Topic: Possible Hand-over of Registry Services to Industry

There are many "fish-hooks" in this proposal, and also some great opportunities.

Everything depends upon how "High-up" the "standards and specs" that Mfish set will be, and the empowering legislation. If Industry takes over the registry services in an "as is" condition, then we will end up paying a lot more - as we will also be lumbered with the costs of setting detailed standards, and a whole new layer of auditing.

If in the process of hand-over, we are given legislation that supports electronic registration of documents, then the opportunity exists for major efficiency gains and major cost savings.

Simply having Industry take control of the existing structure will not give us any gains. We will in fact be losers, as the ministry grows to take on the role of auditor. The only chance for any significant productivity improvements from the process of industry taking control of Registry operations involves the handing back of responsibility for getting all information into computer ready form (checked and validated) to those who produce the information in the first instance.

There is huge potential for efficiency gains and cost savings if registry services then become simply a central electronic clearinghouse (minimal staff - 1.5 FTE and minimal running costs). This will be possible only if the ministry stick to very high level standards for verification and non-repudiation of the information received and high level Database specifications.


Current Situation:

Fishers, skippers, fish receivers, quota owners fill out their various forms and send them to the ministry. Industry pays for people to fill out paper, and send it to the ministry.

Ministry personnel enter the information in computers.

Ministry staff does error checking and validation.

Ministry staff authorise each transaction, receive all moneys, do all accounting and send all pieces of paper out to fishers. Industry pays for all of this.

Error rates in most databases are very high (over 10%) - little use is now made of catch effort statistics due to this unreliability.

Only source of significant Gains.

Fishers, skippers, fish receivers, quota owners get their information into computer ready form (either themselves, or through an "agency"). All this information is checked and verified at source. This information is then sent by secure electronic mail to the registry computer.

The registry computer produces all permits, licences, monthly balances, and notifications of trades, mortgages and transfers. Everything is electronic - no paper.

Under an Associated Species Balancing regime, there are few, if any, deemed value demands (processing costs under a deemed values system are much higher). Manual processing requirements are less than two Full Time Equivalent staff (FTE).

We get a very reliable database, with very low error rates.

The greatest efficiencies available in the short term will come from moving the responsibility for data input and validation from the ministry to the users, requiring all users to submit all of their documents, returns and trading documents in electronically verifiable format. Each user will directly meet the costs of getting documents into electronic format - either on their own PC, or through an agent. Competitive markets will develop for systems and services. Automated computer systems can then handle all receipt, registration, and processing of these various documents. Such a move requires more powers than are given under section 296 of the 1996 Act. Specifically the section needs to empower electronic transmission of funds, and electronic registration of documents. One might want to seriously consider if any crown funds are involved in any registry services, the alternative being that the entire cost is funded by industry, and recovery is therefore an industry responsibility (this is a significant shift in mindset for the ministry).

When considering a move to electronic submission, the major issues are ones of evidence, authentication and non-repudiation ("is this what you sent", and "are you who you claim to be"). Standards for verification and non-repudiation are well defined in the international community, and do not need to be re-invented by the New Zealand fishing industry. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a maturing technology, widely employed both locally and internationally. The move from closed "Value Added Networks" (VANs) to secure use of open networks (like the Internet) are happening worldwide, with significant cost savings and efficiency gains.


If the outcome is favourable - we get reliable data, and rapid transactions, at 20% or less of current costs.

If things go wrong, and we are stuck with existing structures, without significant legislative change, then we could easily see costs increasing by 100% without any significant gains in service or data reliability.


It is perhaps the greatest opportunity we have for gain, and also a significant threat of losses.

Any agreement to take over operation of registry services must be conditional on:

Anything less is a high-risk venture.



Ted Howard

Managing Director

Solution-Multipliers Ltd & FishTech Ltd

27th November 1997