Fishers Progress Their Common Interests
This article was originally
published in the Northern Advocate on Nov 16 2005
A recognition that the Ministry
of Fishery's commitment to proportionalism
is at the heart of the many of the injustices dealt to recreational
fishos was just one of the many matters considered when the Hokianga
Accord met at Waimamaku last week. The fourth in a series of meetings
held throughout the north over recent months to further the common
interests of Maori and Pakeha non-commercial fishers, the Hokianga
Accord has received official recognition by government as a legitimate
voice for the local recreational fishing community.
At the heart of this community
of interest lies recognition that, like all other recreational fishers,
the vast majority of Maori fishing is recreational. The legal definition
of "Customary Fishing" being limited only to fishing with
special permits secured for specific events such as tangi and hui
or funerals and meetings.
A preference to classify
their subsistence fishing as non-commercial rather than recreational
has been adopted by this Accord. Maori especially feel some discomfort
with the legal definition of being recreational fishos, since they
mainly fish for food rather than sport, or in the unforgettable
words of the most able Ngapuhi leader and Accord Chair, Sonny Tau:
"My mother taught me never to play with my food."
The hui brought together
members of a wide range of recreational fishing groups such as the
national lobby group "option4", the Recreational Fishing
Council, the National Big Game Council and The Whangarei Trailer-Boat
Club, as well as tribal representatives of Maori commercial and
non-commercial fishing interests from around the North Island.
A keen interest by Iwi other
than Ngapuhi in this ground-breaking process acknowledges that Ngapuhi
are leading the way in the fight to enable their people to catch
fish for a feed by securing more fish in the sea.
During the course of the
hui it was acknowledged by all parties that fisheries management
tools such as Mataitai and Taiapure, given to Maori in settlement
of Waitangi Treaty Claims, provide some of the best avenues to securing
the common goal of more fish in the sea.
With a Ministry seeming hell-bent
on looking after the interests of the commercial sector at the expense
of all non-commercial fishos, there was even recognition that Maori,
now with over 50% of the commercial fisheries in their hands, have
the opportunity to reduce their commercial catch to enable their
people to catch more kai moana.
A further meeting for the
Ti Tii Marae at the top of the Bay of Island's Mangonui Inlet was
tabled for some time in February next year. During the intervening
months, the Accord will encourage the progress of local Fisheries
Management Plans for further consideration at subsequent meetings.
A unique sense of good-will
and collective solidarity between Tangata Whenua and Tau Iwi [Maori
and Non-Maori] was a major outcome of this developing dialogue.
And in recognising that the strength of numbers bodes well for success,
the Accord ended on an especially buoyant note.