The Political Economy of Fishing Rights and Claims: The Maori Experience in New Zealand

Authors

  • MICHAEL DE ALESSI

    Corresponding author
    1. Research Scientist, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, 1122 NE Boat St. Seattle, WA 98105
      Michael L. De Alessi, Research Scientist, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, 1122 NE Boat St. Seattle, WA 98105. E-mail: dealessi@washington.edu
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  • The author wishes to thank Nancy Peluso, Sally Fairfax, Mike Carroll, Tom McClurg, Elizabeth Havice, Liam Campling, Penny Howard, the editors of the Journal of Agrarian Change and the anonymous reviewers for their advice, encouragement, generous comments and criticisms. Any mistakes, of course, remain mine.

Michael L. De Alessi, Research Scientist, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, 1122 NE Boat St. Seattle, WA 98105. E-mail: dealessi@washington.edu

Abstract

The capitalist penetration of fisheries in New Zealand began in the nineteenth century and has carried on into the twenty-first. Early on, Maori were denied access to fisheries by a lack of access to capital; a de facto restriction that became a de jure restriction with the creation of fishing quotas in the 1990s. This legal change allowed Maori to use their historic treaty claims to articulate with the discourse of property rights and gain legal access to fish. In return, this engagement facilitated the penetration of capitalism into Maori fishing practices. Two Maori-controlled fishing companies, Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd (AFL) and Moana Pacific Fisheries Ltd (Moana Pacific), demonstrate how Maori ownership of fishing quotas irrevocably changed historical modes of access and relationships to capital.

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