Fisheries Delegate Report
Amended for web publication
20 12 05
Tena koutou katoa
Well this month I have some
interesting news, as I attended the fourth Hokianga Accord Forum
Meeting at Te Whakamaharatanga Marae. After listening to all the
korero I was able to actually start to really understand the extent
of the problem with our fishery at this present time and the role
of the Forum.
Firstly, our fishery, which
means the Hokianga Harbour and outside, are part of an area that
the Government manages, on all New Zealanders behalf. They call
this whole area, which is nearly all the west coast of the North
Island, Area 8. At this moment without going into fine detail, it
is in a very bad state. The snapper 8 fishery has been OVER FISHED
to the extent that the snapper stocks are at half the level it should
be, when measured at their lowest point. The measure is a level
the Government lets us fish the stocks down to, to supposedly make
the fish naturally be able to maintain the fishery, sustainable
fishing they call it. It was said at this meeting, that should
we have a naturally bad breeding season now, it could
damn near destroy the lot.
So having realised this,
the Government's plan of action, is to stop everybody from taking
so much fish. Good you say, but the way
they propose to do it seems unfair considering the people who created
this mess – the commercial fishing companies, seem to benefit
the most from this proposal.
Yes, the Government has got
itself into a bind by firstly creating the Quota Management System.
Secondly, it then allocated
this quota to commercial interests based on historic catches, so
if they cut their quota which they have been allocated, the commercial
fishermen are going to get pissed off and possibly sue the Government.
So the Government looked elsewhere to where they can make cuts,
and are now looking in the direction of those who have not bought
quota, yet still take fish. Guess who that is, yes right again –
you, me and everybody else who fish, but don't purchase quota to
Firstly, they propose to
introduce a system called Proportional
Allocation. Before they do this they are going to limit the
amount of fish we take to a set amount, "capping" they call it.
Secondly, they will reduce
equally the amount of fish the different types of fishermen can
take. Government classifies, these, as COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN, RECREATIONAL
FISHERMEN and CUSTOMARY FISHERMEN. They propose to reduce the amount
we can take equally.
And then if the fishery recovers,
increase the amounts equally. On the surface this seems fair, but
look at other factors such as, who has been trying to conserve,
and those who have not, and you will understand why this proposal
is unfair to non-commercial fishermen and would not increase the
amount of fish in the water – the ultimate goal.
In recent years the amount
of fish allowed to be caught, by non-commercial fishermen has been
reduced while commercial fishers have carried on and over fished
their allowable amounts. So while most of us have been conserving,
the money boys have been making heaps of profit, and at our expense,
you could say.
The Government's proposal
will benefit the commercial fishers more, because as I said, the
Government will reduce the amounts we
are allowed to catch again, to implement this latest idea, which
means we have had two or three cuts in recent times and the big
boys have had none.. And if the fishery recovers from this method,
they will increase the amounts equally, remembering that this means
more quota for sale to the commercial sector.
The reality for most of us
who are recreational fishermen is that the fishing has gotten that
bad in recent times that we can hardly have a good days fishing
now, it almost maintains the status quo except there's less fish
Yes, we conserve and if it
gets better we all get an equal increase. The Government will get
their money for selling their quota, the big boys will come in and
decimate the fishery again, and we will miss out again. When we
all know that the real problem is the excessive fishing by the commercial
And yet we suffer, all because
of the money the Government gets for its quota and, of course the
money for the commercial sector.
At the moment the fishing
companies dump about three times the amount that customary fishers
even catch. So if the snapper fishery increases, the possibility
exists for the companies to dump more non-quota species to get more
snapper, and reduce our chance of catching more snapper as well
as other species.
So in the end, to make
a long story short:
Recreational and customary
fishermen don't stand to get more decent fishing conditions. We
also do not, on the whole, have the means, eg. Boats etc to compete
for what fish there is now, so limiting commercial fishing is what
we really need to, and it is, at this time, the only option.
So a possible solution, is
for all our hapu to sign up to some of the management tools the
Government has, and, in my opinion, try and lock the commercial
fishermen into catching only the amount they are legally supposed
to be taking.
The tools available now are
mahinga mataitai and taiapure; they allow Maori to participate in
With the support of other
New Zealanders, we could theoretically stop the rape of our resource
by fishing companies, as commercial fishermen cannot fish in mahinga
mataitai without specific authority from us. These tools are by
no way perfect at the moment, but I believe the Government is trying
to include the public, by trying to pass the buck to different organisations
eg. The Forums.
So – Maori could possibly
help solve this problem, even though it will be a challenge. It's
better to have tried than not tried at all. So this is what the
Forum advise the people to do – set up under the mahinga mataitai
regulations and they are offering their support to try and achieve
this, in the way of technical support, and an advisory role in fishing
management, and at the same time lobby Government for change in
Also impacting on this kaupapa
is Government plans, under the umbrella of the Department of Conservation,
to have 10% of the marine environment protected namely by putting
in marine reserves, which if put in place, stay there forever without
you being able to ever use them to gather kaimoana of any kind.
Also, even though it has not been discussed at the hui I have attended,
I know that future plans for marine farming, "aquaculture" they
call it, will have impact on these issues, as space will be made
available for this, and also generates money for the Crown or district
councils. So if we don't put our own reserves in place first, under
customary regulations things could happen in our area. So be aware
how these things impact on our ability to manage our fisheries.
Anyhow, what was really important
at the hui is that Maori and other New Zealanders have a better
understanding of each others feelings about these issues, and the
common goal of all concerned, is to put more fish in the ocean by
way of sustainable management practices, and also a lot of Pakeha
at the hui, have a better understanding of our Maori culture, which
can only, in my opinion, be beneficial to us all.
Some of the obstacles in
setting up these tools in the past, has been that the Crown has
set it up in such a way that any objections from almost everybody
who has an interest in the fishery would make the chances of setting
up a mahinga mataitai slim, as the law says it cannot adversely
affect recreational or commercial fishing interests.
However, with a lot of Pakeha
coming on board, after seeing what the Government is about, the
barriers are, I think coming down, and we are more likely to get
their support than their opposition, if we include them in our management
practices, from the start. There are about twelve forums nationwide
in the beginning stages and the chairmen of those other Forums who
attended the hui, now want to set up like Ngapuhi – all
working together – Pakeha and Maori. If this
occurs, the Government would possibly be forced to act.
So to finish I am
- The Takiwa consider at this stage, to have a close look at promoting
customary management tools, and even lead the push to do this.
- We also encourage total community
involvement, and by total, I mean Maori and
other New Zealanders.
- We also support the direction of the Forum, remembering that
participation in the Forum is open to everyone.
The next hui of the Forum
is proposed for February next year at Tii marae, time and date as
well as the location is yet to be confirmed.
Remember at our December
meeting Graeme Morrell will be giving us a talk on customary tools,
as well as a talk on proportional allocation, and maybe marine reserves,
and how they will impact on us.
Kia ora mai tatou katoa
Stephen Cassidy Naera