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Bill Ross' Hui Letter

Letter of Apology to Hokianga Accord

From Bill Ross

5 April 2006

Hui Report

Appendix Three

Dear Sonny

Please accept my apologies for being unable to attend the hui. Again, work commitments preclude me being there in body.

I'd like to share this thought with you though.

The predictor of future behaviour and performance is past behaviour and the results achieved.

The saying that leopards don't change their spots applies. However, many recreational and amateur fishing groups and representatives HAVE changed their behaviour. That such a large gathering of interested and committed people is at the hui on the wonderful Whitiora marae is testament to that.

The organisers are to be applauded and congratulated. Your leadership and commitment is to be celebrated. I'd like to think that Ministry and government could follow this great example. The debate over fisheries management and the rights of stakeholders fishing under the amateur regulations and allocation model has been going on since the inception of the Quota Management System.

There's a reason for that.

We haven't seen the changes in behaviour and process that acknowledges the rights of kiwis to have a fair allocation of the fisheries, especially those vital inshore fishes. We've all seen the depletion of the resource in different areas and in different species. We know that we are seen as a problem by Ministry and the commercial operators to varying degrees. Sometimes it is as if we are the “enemy”.

If we are to make progress and advance and achieve "more fish in the water" and maintain a reasonable daily catch limit then behaviours and performances have to change. Key to the success is that Ministry has to change its attitudes and behaviours to both customary and recreational stakeholders.

I was told that Ministry don't formally recognise the Hokianga Accord as a legitimate forum. That's a sign of bad behaviour. If they ignore the legitimacy they are discounting the value and commitment of those attending. It’s lip service and it’s rude and insulting and a perpetuation of the disregard for the customary and recreational fishers in New Zealand.

I'd like us to issue a challenge to the Minister wherever he is and whatever he's doing. Come and listen to the voice of the people of New Zealand who are working towards securing a better outcome than will be achieved with proportional share and the continued depletion of inshore stocks of many species. Front up to this dedicated group of people who give freely of their time and money. Honour Moyle's promise and represent us.

To force the peoples of New Zealand into legal action to secure their rights is unconscionable. To have Ministry state that they measure their success by the number of legal actions against them is bizarre. To face the same old same old trite and politically expedient answers to every point we raise against their policy decisions is an insult. It's the same old behaviour with the same old outcome....no change. At least, no positive change for customary and recreational stakeholders.

It’s clear that Ministry don't represent our interests and don't give any weight to our submissions. Time after time after time it’s the same old behaviour. Lack of consultation, impossible deadlines, a total absence of recognition of the high capital costs involved and their certain knowledge that they can run us ragged with multiple submissions. Divide and conquer is the order of the day.

They've even taken to revenue gathering. It's a good trick. They print measuring devices to make sure the public don't take undersized fish. They make them inaccurate so that they can prosecute someone who used THEIR measurement tool! The offender pays $250. Of course, their answer is as always, it's all care no responsibility and it's only a tool.

There is, I can assure you, no disclaimer on this item advising the public that the information is inaccurate. A waste of my tax dollar and a travesty that they punish the hapless victim. Is it any wonder that we view the Ministry and their officials with suspicion? Any other business would be taken to court for misrepresentation........but not the Ministry, they are above the law in this case.

How many prosecutions did the Ministry make against the commercial sector last year. How many prosecutions did they take against members of the public? I think we need to understand that there is a massive disparity in the emphasis on compliance in the fisheries between stakeholders. How many dumpings were reported last year and what were the outcomes? Who was prosecuted?  What is the actual incidence of offences by the commercial sector and what were the outcomes?

To be respected and taken seriously you have to show respect and act responsibly. The fact is that I'm waiting............the question is how long will it be?  I think the Ministry have a great opportunity to build relationships and show that they take all stakeholders seriously. To treat our groups as secondary and as a nuisance and an inconvenience is no longer acceptable behaviour. To attend the hui and not give it any formal credibility or recognition is disrespectful in my opinion.

Sonny, I hope and pray that your commitment, passion, leadership and beliefs are broadcast far and wide. I hope that you can help make the changes necessary for fishos and food gatherers to be heard and our concerns recognised and addressed.

I would ask you for this favour........ask the Ministry attendees to put their hands in their own pockets and pay the fine for the poor guy who was prosecuted and fined for the measurement offence. I'll bet $50 they won't......


Mauri ora

Bill Ross

Past President Bay of Islands Swordfish Club

Past Executive Board Member Rec Fishing Council

Member IGFA





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