Whakamaharatanga Marae Hui
A hui to discuss non-commercial fishing interests and Maori
10 - 11 November 2005
Paul Barnes, option4
speech notes in Appendix Three)
In the year 2000 option4
analysed the Ministry of Fisheries proposal of proportional allocation
included in a discussion document called Soundings. option4
strongly objected to Soundings and managed a campaign
that saw over 60,000 people submit to the Ministry objecting to
the proportional allocation model; equalling 98.5% of all submissions.
During the Soundings
consultation process the true objective of the proportional
allocation system was revealed by a Ministry representative, Jenni
McMurran. She advised a public meeting that the objective was to
cap the recreational catch and to avoid compensation issues for
After nearly 20 years of
failing to implement the QMS properly and rebuild depleted inshore
fisheries the Ministry of Fisheries now wanted to change the way
it allocates catches between commercial and non-commercial fishers.
The Ministry had recently
started using a system it calls proportional allocation.
Proportional allocation of
fisheries is a method of giving all of the competing users in a
fishery, an explicit portion or share of the available catch.
If the fishery improves,
everyone's portion is increased by the same percentage.
If the fishery becomes depleted
everyone's catch is reduced by the same percentage.
It sounds very simple, and
on the surface, it appears to be fair.
Nothing could be
further from the truth.
Recreational catch has been
suppressed to all time lows in many important inshore fisheries
through ongoing mismanagement of the commercial fishery.
If the Ministry can cap recreational
catches now it would mean the minimum possible amount of fish would
have to be set aside for non-commercial fishers.
The Ministry wanted to do
this is because the maximum possible tonnage of fish had already
been given to the commercial sector.
Minister's SNA8 Decision
The area on the west coast
of the North Island from Wellington to North Cape is defined as
snapper 8 (SNA8). In September 2005 the Minister made a decision
to cut commercial, customary and recreational allocation of snapper
by around 13% each in this area.
The Ministry has failed to
constrain commercial fishers to their quota since 1986 and as of
last year commercial fishers had removed over 6000 tonnes of snapper
in excess of their initial annual quota entitlement, through a variety
of Ministry condoned methods.
During this period non-commercial
fishers accepted voluntary cuts by way of reduced bag limits, increased
minimum size limits and a reduction of hook numbers on longlines
to conserve in this fishery. These voluntary measures have resulted
in a 26.6% reduction in non-commercial catch, a saving of 800 -
1600 tonnes since 1995.
When the Minister, David
Benson-Pope, made the proportional decision and cut both commercial
quota and non-commercial allowance by 13% each he explained it by
saying, "To be fair to all New Zealanders, I've decided these
reductions should be shared across all sectors."
While the Minister may think
these reductions are fair what is obvious is that proportionalism
punishes those who conserve and rewards those who waste and squander.
It is hard to imagine a system
that would be more unfair, particularly to Maori.
Maori by ethnic grouping
are the biggest recreational fishers in the country. Maori are also
increasing in numbers by a bigger percentage than other groups therefore
any adverse impacts on recreational fishers will have the most impact
While the Ministry realise
there are major unresolved issues in the way they are implementing
proportional allocations it is obvious they find it easier to continue
to take fish off the non-commercial sector than face the consequences
of their mismanagement of the commercial fisheries.
The Government seem frightened
to deal harshly with the commercial sector. This reluctance introduces
a bias into fisheries management because if the Crown is frightened
of being sued by commercial fishers then all fisheries management
decisions would be biased in favour of the commercial sector. This
is because the commercial fishers are the only sector with rights
strong enough to sue the Crown.
This is why recreational
and customary fishers are facing reductions in SNA8 even though
the non-commercial sector had conserved in this fishery.
Shares of the TAC
TAC means -
Catch is the total amount of fish that can be taken from a particular
fishery and includes commercial, recreational and customary Maori
catch and also other fishing related mortality.
TACC means -
Commercial Catch is the total amount of fish specified that can
be taken by commercial fishers in each fish stock.
Currently when the Minister
sets or varies a TACC for any quota management stock the Minister
has to allow for certain things as per section 21 of the Fisheries
21.Matters to be taken into account in setting or varying any
total allowable commercial catch-
(1) In setting
or varying any total allowable commercial catch for any quota
management stock, the Minister shall have regard to the total
allowable catch for that stock and shall allow for -
(a) The following
non-commercial fishing interests in that stock, namely-
(i) Maori customary
non-commercial fishing interests; and
(b) All other
mortality to that stock caused by fishing.
The proportionalism being
promoted by the Ministry is an attempt to alter the commercial quota
rights in the fishery. Instead of commercial fishers quota representing
a share of the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) it will represent
a share of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of all sectors.
Equally, non-commercial fishers
will also be given a share of the Total Allowable Catch of all sectors.
This share will be the amount
that is left over after the commercial quota rights have been transferred
to the proportional system. This would effectively mean full privatisation
of the fisheries and the non-commercial component of the fishery
would be minor portion or share of the bigger commercial fishery.
It would also mean a change
to the law would be required as section 21 stipulates the Minister
must "allow for" non-commercial interests.
Jodi's responded to a request
for more information,
the policy [division] has resourced a person in their
staff to look at the allocation right. I think it's called the
Intersectorial Allocations Management, or something along those
lines. At this stage..Robin Connor has been given that role but
he's just reading about it and finding all those things. It doesn't
mean that.it does look like they are trying to come up with further
definitions about what that right actually means. But, it's early
When asked if there would
be a public consultation process Jodi confirmed this by saying,
"there would have to be a public consultation process".
Proportionalism is a dangerous
experiment that could see the people of this country losing their
fishing rights as described in section 21 of the Fisheries Act.
Under a proportional system
the Ministry of Fisheries will remove themselves from allocation
decisions and commercial and non-commercial fishers will be asked
to develop Fisheries Plans "collaboratively".
The Ministry and the Minister
of Fisheries would then be able to avoid their responsibility to
the people of this country, the Treaty and tangata whenua.
With allocation being unresolved
there is no chance of knowing what could possibly be gained from
a fisheries plan. People would be going into the process blind.
Without knowing what there is to start with there is no way of knowing
what benefits can be gained from a plan.
The essential first step
in the fisheries plan process would be to resolve the allocation
issue. Stan Crothers made a commitment
at the July hui that the Ministry of Fisheries would meet with representatives
of the Hokianga Accord to discuss any outstanding issues on proportionalism
after October 1st this year.
Only by resolving this issue
will there be any possibility of achieving our common goal of -
fish in the water"
maha atu nga ika i roto te wai"
The Fisheries Plans the Ministry
are proposing should not be confused with local management plans
being formulated by different groups.
The Ministry's plans discuss
managing the whole Quota Management Area under a fisheries plan.
Under this arrangement, to have the Kaipara or another northern
harbour closed off as a separate management area for mullet or flounder
would entail gaining the agreement of every tribe or hapu from Cape
Runaway on the East Cape to Tirua Point in north Taranaki. That
would have to be done before any influence can be brought at a planning
level. This is a huge undertaking for anyone contemplating such
In addition, consideration
needs to be given to the Minister who has refused to make any management
changes in flounder 1 and grey mullet 1 this year, despite the Ministry
advising him that the quotas had never been caught and were unsustainable.
The chances of getting any favourable management action out of such
a Minister is unlikely.
in the case of flounder and grey mullet 1, taking 'paper fish' off
the commercial sector and food off the plates of your children."
The Ministry are waiting
for the decision letter to be signed off for the 2005 fisheries
management changes but in the Minister's press release he indicated
a need for some changes. Once Ministry get that directive it looks
like there will be some resources to look at some of the things
that have been raised. David Benson-Pope didn't sign the decision
letter off before he left office. "So, it's gone up, readdressed,
to the new Minister, to sign off but on his behalf, on the decisions
he [Benson-Pope] has made."