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Hui Report April 2006


Hokianga Accord Hui Report

Whitiora Marae

15 May 2006
Page 4

(PDF 640Kb)


A hui to provide for the input and participation of tangata whenua having a non-commercial interest in fisheries, an interest in the effects of fishing on the aquatic environment and having particular regard to kaitiakitanga.

6 - 7 April 2006

 

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Contents
Shared Fisheries Policy  
option4's involvement  
Proportional allocation  
Participation  
Fisheries plans  
Recommendation  
Conclusion

 

Shared Fisheries Policy

Mark Edwards, Fisheries Policy Manager, Ministry of Fisheries

Since the December hui the Ministry had released the advice paper given to the Minister regarding the Shared Fisheries Policy Development process.

This document was made available at the beginning of Mark's address to the hui.  Insufficient copies of that advice were provided to the hui and the Ministry were reminded to bring at least 100 copies of any documentation to the next hui.

The full 19 page advice paper given to the Minister is available online at

http://option4.co.nz/Fisheries_Mgmt/documents/shared-fisheries-policyadvice.pdf

A three-page summary was also presented to the hui (Appendix Nine).

The Minister had agreed to the scope and objectives of the process and it was now the Ministry's job to engage with stakeholders at the initial phase of the project. The Ministry had already discussed the project with a range of stakeholders, some of whom were present at the hui. Mark explained the process so everyone would have an understanding.

The initial phase of the Shared Fisheries Policy project was not a stage the Ministry always conducted. MFish were looking for stakeholders to identify the nature of the issues they had regarding allocation of shared fisheries and mechanisms they considered would address those issues. Meetings had been held with commercial fishers, the Bay of Plenty iwi Forum earlier in the week, three regional recreational fishing forums and other representatives before the hui.

The Ministry had completed around two-thirds of the work required to complete the first phase of the process. MFish believed they had taken care not to impose their ideas on the process, as they did not want to preclude any options that may resolve the issues presented.

In the next phase of the project the Ministry of Fisheries would provide the Minister with a range of options that he would need to discuss with his Government colleagues. Following that, the agreed options would be put out for wider consultation with stakeholders and the public, after July this year.

Beyond that extensive consultation process there would be an analysis of submissions and advice given to Government. The Government would make a decision on how they wanted to proceed, based on the input received.

"In our view, this is part of the view we are being transparent about is that we are unlikely to resolve these problems without legislative amendment, particularly to section 21 [of the Fisheries Act 1996] and in respect of some other elements that I will mention in the presentation".

Some elements of the process:

  • The brief provided to the Minister in December 2005 contains:
     
    • Background information
    • Problem description
    • Key challenges
    • Suggestions to achieve the objectives
    • Discussion about scope of the project.

Mark then elaborated on the scope of the options provided to the Minister.

The Ministry wanted to engage with the Hokianga Accord and get people's views on the issues that needed to be resolved and options to resolve them.

The Shared Fisheries Policy initiative would build on previous reform processes such as Soundings (2000), the Ministerial Consultative Group (2001) and the Reference Group (2003).

The Ministry of Fisheries wanted to improve the capacity of non-commercial stakeholders to have input into the process and more discussion was required on how that would be achieved. "We want, desire, a lot more engagement by iwi and hapu in fisheries management".

The constraints contained in the Cabinet Paper following the Ministerial Consultative Group process in 2001, still applied to this Shared Fisheries Policy Development process. A copy of the Cabinet Paper had been included in the December advice paper to the Minister.

 

option4's Involvement

Paul Barnes, option4

option4 had met with the Ministry three times to discuss the allocation issue. The first meeting with Robin Connor, the Ministry's senior policy advisor, was held on 21st February 2006. Robin is tasked with writing the draft policy paper for public consultation later in the year.

The February meeting was more of an introductory meeting that opened the lines of communication but essentially had no tangible outcome. A report of that meeting is online at http://option4.co.nz/Fisheries_Mgmt/sfsr206.htm

option4 gained the impression from Robin that the Ministry do have a preference for a proportional allocation system for shared fisheries, with some criteria surrounding it. Although Mark Edwards disagreed with this assessment later in the hui.  

Proportional Allocation

Proportional allocation means that all sectors - commercial, recreational and customary would have a clearly defined share of the fishery. If the fishery yield improved all sectors would get a gain; if the fishery yield decreased all sectors would have a catch reduction. This allocation process would be conditioned by the constraints mentioned in the Cabinet Paper referred to by Mark, including provision for adjustments due to population increases (or decreases) in the recreational and customary sectors.

Problems could arise when the proposal went through the Select Committee process, on the way to legislative change. The danger lies in the criteria being removed leaving the non-commercial sector with only the baseline proportional allocation model of allocating shared fisheries.

The last time proportional allocation was proposed, in Soundings, option4 decided the risks of accepting this allocation model far outweighed the benefits.

option4 believe the current legislation had not been fully explored and this was one of the main reasons they had supported the Kahawai Legal Challenge. "So that we can better understand what rights we have now, before we allow for any change to legislation".

The Maori population of recreational fishers is growing faster than any other sector. It would be Maori children who would be most affected if the project had an adverse outcome for recreational fishers.

This proposal is very similar to the Soundings paper released in the year 2000 http://option4.co.nz/option4/soundings.htm. option4 were hoping the next meeting with Robin would reveal alternative options other than those that had already been debated since Soundings.

option4 and the Ministry had already agreed that they would work through the proportional allocation document presented at the last Hokianga Accord hui. The document details a list of serious issues with proportional allocation that need to be addressed before this system would be acceptable to non-commercial fishers. One of those issues is double jeopardy.

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Double Jeopardy

Previous proportional allocation decisions in shared fisheries had left non-commercial fishers vulnerable to a double jeopardy situation. The most recent example of this was the snapper 8 (SNA8) decision for the west coast snapper stock.

The snapper fishery had declined through commercial overfishing. Commercial fishers continued to maintain their catch through increased effort and using more efficient methods. On the other hand, customary and recreational catch had reduced due to the lower biomass, as there were less fish in the water available to be caught.

When it came to decision time, the reduction in snapper catch for non-commercial fishers was not taken into account. Neither were the conservation efforts of recreational fishers. Previous agreements to reduce bag limits, increase minimum size limits and reduce the number of hooks on longlines were not accounted for when the Minister decided to reduce all sectors' catch by the same proportion, in August 2005.

If recreational fishers accepted any proportional allocation system without criteria non-commercial fishing, both customary and recreational, would become subservient to the Quota Management System. This situation would not deliver the outcomes that non-commercial fishers were seeking.

 

Participation

It was very important recreational fishers agreed on the desired outcome from the Shared Fisheries Policy Development process. option4 welcomed the input of tangata whenua and the Hokianga Accord into the process.

option4 had recently written to the Hokianga Accord, the NZ Big Game Fishing Council and the NZ Recreational Fishing Council suggesting all groups should work together on the project. If all the groups were working together there would be less likelihood the Ministry could take parts of each group's different ideas and produce an outcome that did not meet anyone's requirements.

It was critical non-commercial fishers were united as the process developed. If there was no agreement then these groups needed to identify where the differences were and examine whether there was a way those differences could be resolved.

To assist in the consultation process option4 had undertaken to video the meetings attended so that they could be converted to a DVD and made available to anyone who wanted to view it. This was the most viable way the option4 team could communicate with as many people as possible, in the time available to discuss the project. Feedback and any questions were welcome.

Second Meeting with Officials

The next meeting to discuss the project was with Stan Crothers (deputy CEO) and John Glaister, CEO of the Ministry of Fisheries. Representatives of option4, the NZ Big Game Fishing Council and the NZ Recreational Fishing Council attended the meeting held on March 8th. It was very short, too many people were involved and therefore the meeting never managed to discuss the finer details of the process that needed to be thoroughly thrashed out.

However, there were two very important outcomes of that meeting:

  1. Stan Crothers agreed the Ministry would work through the policy aspects of the proportional allocation document.
  2. John Glaister agreed to do a stocktake/case study scenario on several important shared fisheries to explore how past management decisions had influenced the current status of those fisheries. Mark Edwards disagreed with this assessment later in the hui.

    This approach would allow the commercial industry to see the downside to a proportional approach as well as any benefits. Snapper 2 (SNA2) was a good example of why proportional allocation would not have benefited the commercial sector compared to their current allocation. Crayfish and paua were other examples.

    It would also allow non-commercial fishers to do the same.

option4's intention was to continue to engage with Stan and the Ministry on the issues raised in the proportional allocation document and the stocktake. Those meetings would need to be kept small to be effective. option4 would be recording those meetings.

Third Meeting

On March 17th Paul Barnes and Trish Rea of option4 met with Lindie Nelson and Robin Connor from the Ministry's policy team and Arthur Hore, an analyst from Auckland MFish. Kim Walshe was also at this meeting.

It was a very interesting session that compared the proportional allocation system to the option4 principles. One outstanding issue is that there are currently no incentives for either commercial or non-commercial fishers to conserve in shared fisheries. Those at the meeting discussed the conservation objectives that the Ministry were trying to achieve. Those objectives would be more achievable under a non-proportional approach to allocation than through their 'preferred policy' of proportional allocation.

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Fisheries Plans

The main questions regarding fisheries plans were:

  1. Should they be joint plans between commercial and non-commercial fishers, where the gain or pain is shared proportionally, regardless of who had created the need for reductions or who had conserved?
  2. Are single sector plans in a non-proportional system better, where those who conserve are rewarded and those who have wasted are punished?

Not surprisingly, the conclusion was, if you had a system that was fair - where the sector that had conserved was recognised for that effort and those who had squandered fish were punished, it would create incentives for people to conserve fish.

The meeting also discussed a 'land all fish' policy for commercial fishers. This is where there would be no minimum legal size limit and all fish caught would have to be landed. That would create an incentive for commercial fishers to avoid areas that had high numbers of small fish because small fish are worth less than larger fish. Also, the fish that were wasted would be taken off their quota. Compliance through aerial surveillance would be made simpler as the dumping of unwanted fish over the side of the boat would be easier to detect.

The meeting agreed that this concept had merit although the public may have other levels of acceptability. Having very small fish for sale in shops would be unacceptable to some people.

If it was possible for commercial fishers to apply the 'land all fish' policy and target larger fish the recreational sector is likely to agree to allocate more quota to the fishing industry, in recognition of their conservation effort. Estimation could be made of the amount of fish that would be conserved. Half that amount could be given to commercial fishers as extra quota. The other half could be left in the water to grow. Everyone would win under this scenario.

The fishing industry were not likely support such a policy if they thought the non-commercial sector would be rewarded with an increase in their allowance. Similarly, the recreational sector were not likely to agree to increase size limits and using larger hooks to avoid wastage if they thought commercial would receive an increase in quota through their conservation effort.

Cooperative fisheries plans provide all sectors the least incentives to conserve. Single sector plans created the most incentives.

There are existing examples of single sector plans including one that applies to a shark fishery on the east coast of the South Island. Commercial fishers are likely to adhere to their own plan, as they would benefit from any gains in productivity. option4 understand the plan still needs to go through the Ministry process, be consulted on and gazetted.

Once a plan is gazetted the Minister has to take that into account when making management decision. This is another benefit to be derived from having a plan in place.

The planning mechanism already exists in legislation in section 11A of the Fisheries Act 1996. It was important the non-commercial sector considered planning for the future.

If a baseline proportional allocation system was introduced there would be no incentives for the non-commercial sector to introduce fisheries plans, as the gains would not accrue to the non-commercial sector alone.

There was no disagreement from those involved at the meeting that joint fisheries plans lacked incentives to conserve by the individual sectors and single sector plans generated incentives to conserve.

To achieve more fish in the water there were two options:

  • Take fish off all sectors to reduce catch levels
  • Give sectors the opportunity to implement a strategy that will allow planning for the future.

Recommendation

The recommendation was to use single sector plans to achieve the outcomes that non-commercial fishers wanted for their fisheries. These plans would not be achievable under a proportional allocation system.

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Input Controls

Under the current system the Ministry of Fisheries seemed to be concentrating more on counting fish rather than managing the fisheries. In the meeting with Lindie, Robin and Arthur recreational representatives discussed past active management by the Ministry and why there seemed to be less emphasis on that aspect nowadays.

Controls such as increasing mesh sizes or the type of nets used to avoid juvenile mortality (the killing of undersized fish), changing hook sizes, design and other gear limitations seemed to have been left to the users to decide. The outcome of this strategy was that there had been very little change in technology used by the commercial sector since the introduction of the Quota Management System in 1986.

As the Shared Fisheries Policy process develops option4 would support more active management by the Ministry. Encouraging, although not overwhelming support was received from the Ministry on this point. MFish did indicate they were not averse to input controls.

Having Ministry actively applying input controls and sectors being able to implement single sector plans would go a long way to achieving the goal of the Hokianga Accord of "more fish in the water".

Area Right

Previous hui discussions had focussed on the limitations of how much area could be dedicated to taiapure, mataitai, marine reserves and other marine uses. Under current legislation the total area set aside for these uses cannot prevent a commercial fisher from taking his quota within a Quota Management Area (QMA). The Ministry use a test to measure the adverse affect on commercial fishers to achieve their catch entitlement, when deciding whether to approve these area tools.

An area right that did not interfere with a commercial fishers ability to land his quota is required. During the third meeting with MFish the blue cod 7 fishery (BCO7) was discussed. This is a fishery with similar issues to the Kaipara fishery:

  • The recreational fishery is concentrated in a small area, i.e. the Marlborough Sounds
  • The area is depleted and has been for a very long time
  • The recreational sector requested commercial quota cuts
  • The Ministry's stance was there was no sustainability issue for BCO7, there was plenty of blue cod in the whole Quota Management Area (QMA)
  • The depletion was localised due to heavy fishing pressure in the Sounds

A way to resolve this would be through the implementation of an area right that would only ban commercial fishing for blue cod, in the Sounds. That would allow several things:

  1. Commercial fishing for other species could continue within the Sounds.
  2. Commercial fishing could continue for blue cod to allow for the catch of quota, outside the Sounds.
  3. The onus would go on the recreational sector to manage the fishing effort within the Sounds to achieve a rebuild of the blue cod stock.

The impression gathered from Ministry personnel at the meeting was that this would be a feasible approach to management. Work needs to continue to develop this concept.

The commercial sector had already exercised its ability to implement area rights, in the orange roughy fishery. The eight QMA's have been subdivided into seventeen smaller management areas with limitations on how much fish could be taken out of each area, at different times. This type of agreement can be achieved through the agreement of 75% of quota holders of that stock. 

One of the criteria option4 has stipulated in the proportional allocation document is that all stakeholders should have equally strong rights.

In the case of the Kaipara Harbour recreational fishers could determine the level of agreement from the recreational sector for subdividing the Kaipara; if there was sufficient support they could:

  1. Advise the Ministry recreational fishers want to exercise their right to divide the Kaipara into smaller areas, for important species such as grey mullet and flounder.
  2. Commercial fishing could be banned for these particular species in the area.
  3. Commercial take of these species could continue in other areas within the whole QMA.
  4. This would allow the continuation of commercial fishing for other species within the Harbour.

Recreational fishers needed tools that would address the issues in shared fisheries. Allocation alone is not going to resolve all the outstanding grievances regarding access to important fisheries. Tangata whenua and Pakeha need to be aware the issues are a lot more complex than what the Ministry are sometimes portraying.

Recommendation

The analysis of the proportional allocation document must be completed with the Ministry, to ensure that any initial allocation of shared fisheries is fair, regardless of the outcome of the Shared Fisheries Policy process.

Work also needs to continue on the stocktake document. This would provide the case studies to enable the implications of different allocation models to be measured.

It would be unwise to continue with the Shared Fisheries Policy without completing both of these tasks.

Conclusion

option4 encourage the involvement of tangata whenua and the Hokianga Accord in this process. The invitation has been extended to tangata whenua and other representatives to work together on this project. The dangers of not asking for the same outcome leaves all non-commercial fishers vulnerable to receiving less than what is desired from the Shared Fisheries Policy process.

The Select Committee process opens the door for serious erosion of what recreational fishers would be seeking from this project.

The Ministry, through the Shared Fisheries Policy process, are trying to determine how to allocate to recreational fishers without the benefit of the High Court's decision on the strength of the current right to fish.

All recreational fishers need to understand what rights exist now before agreeing to any change. The Kahawai Legal Challenge is an opportunity to test the strength of that right.

 

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