- Maori Solution to our Shrinking Fish Resource
This article was originally
published in The
Independent on 13 July 2005
Tau, leader of the nation's largest iwi, Ngapuhi,
has challenged Pakeha recreational fishermen to work with
Maori to preserve diminishing inshore fish stocks.
could give Pakeha fishermen access to marine reserves
otherwise barred to them.
The aim was to ensure fisheries are replenished rather
than fall victim to commercial fishing, Tau said. He
suggested Pakeha work within a Maori customary
Too much emphasis
was placed on commercial fishing interests, Tau
told the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council (NZRFC)
meeting in Wellington on Saturday.
The Treaty of
Waitangi Fisheries Commission had looked after Maori commercial
fishing interests well since the 1992 Maori fisheries settlement,
Sonny Tau addresses the NZRFC AGM in Wellington, July 2005.
(Photo courtesy of Sam Mossman and the NZ Fishing News.)
But the 107,000-strong
Ngapuhi iwi needed more fish in their coastal waters to
meet the daily requirement of feeding their families and hosting
guests in appropriate customary fashion.
He said Maori and Pakeha commercial fisheries managers were
interested only in the bottom line.
"They seem to have
forgotten about their obligations to the social and cultural
well-being of us, the people."
A recent hui of non-commercial
fishing interests, held at Whitiora Marae, Te Tii, Waitangi,
had agreed the answer was clear: "More fish in
Maori needed to work with recreational fishermen under the
legislative umbrella of customary fishing regulations established
Mataitai, or Maori-managed local fisheries in waters of cultural significance,
can be created under these regulations. Maori can exclude commercial fishing
operators from a mataitai.
A mataitai can also take
precedence over marine reserves, which are otherwise
no-go zones for fishermen.
Marine reserves are a thorn in the side for many Maori and
Pakeha recreational fishermen, who object to Department of Conservation
plans to tie up 10% of New Zealand exclusive economic zone
Maori held the key to
alternative, effective marine protection, Tau said.
"The sooner the NZRFC, the public, the Department of Conservation
and the Ministry of Fisheries accept this, the sooner we can
get on with the program of protecting our marine environment
for the benefit of our mokopuna [grandchildren],"
" Ngapuhi are of course willing to share this possibility
with other categories of non-commercial interest holders, but
the choice lodges with you," he told recreational fishermen.
"This is our only opportunity to have some degree of control over
the management of our inshore fishery."
Fisheries Ministry deputy chief executive Stan Crothers said
the ministry was starting talks with about 75 iwi to see
how they intended to implement customary fishing regulations.
Crothers said Tau 's call to recreational fishermen to work
with Maori was echoed by other iwi.
NZRFC spokesman Max Hetherington said the mataitai concept
attracted recreational fishermen. He said Tau had indicated
in his speech he would entertain the notion of community
management of a mataitai.
Tau had flagged the possibility of Pakeha as kaitiaki
- guardians or customary fisheries officers - of mataitai in
"Welcome to the world of the Maori. I hope we can be of assistance
to each other."
Ngapuhi will address the
issue at a further hui this month.