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Hui Report Nov 2005

Whakamaharatanga Marae Hui
Page 5

(PDF 450Kb)

A hui to discuss non-commercial fishing interests and Maori customary forums
10 - 11 November 2005

Proportional Allocation

Paul Barnes, option4

(Full 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 the Crown.

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

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.

Capping Recreational Catch

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 on Maori.

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.

Management Bias

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 -

Total Allowable 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 -

Total Allowable 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 Act 1996.

Section 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
(ii) Recreational 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,

"Recently 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 stages."

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.

Fisheries Plans

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 -                                                        

"More fish in the water"

"Kia maha atu nga ika i roto te wai"


Ministry's Fisheries Plans

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 a plan.

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.

"Proportionalism means, in the case of flounder and grey mullet 1, taking 'paper fish' off the commercial sector and food off the plates of your children."

Ministry Perspective

Jodi Mantle

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."




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