hui to discuss non-commercial fishing interests and Maori customary
A successful three day hui
was held at Whakamaharatanga Marae, Hokianga in late July to discuss
non-commercial fishing interests and Maori customary management
tools. Ministry of Fisheries representatives joined the hui on the
second day to expand on points raised prior to the hui and participate
in discussions with Maori customary and recreational fishing representatives.
Much of the Ministry of Fisheries
focus was on the Maori customary regional forums that are being
established, two of which will be based in Ngapuhi, one from Te
Rarawa (northern Hokianga) north and the other based further south.
Ngapuhi agreed that for the
forums to be successful non-commercial fishing interests had to
be involved alongside customary interests. A commitment was made
to hold the first regional forum meeting within four weeks to settle
on the terms of reference, a Memorandum of Understanding and a strategic
plan for the forum. The inaugural forum is scheduled for the last
week of August.
We agreed that mataitai and
taiapure were potentially excellent customary tools for managing
sedentary species but were unlikely to have much effect on mobile
finfish stocks. It is obvious that more resources are needed to
be applied to implement and maintain customary tools.
All participants were invited
to have input into a document that would be given to the Minister
of Fisheries after the hui. The unanimous outcome was several statements
and a series of bullet points on sustainability, Maori customary
interests, recreational (non-commercial) fishing interests and marine
Our collective interests
lie in everyone disseminating what they had learnt from the hui
and the potential benefits of working together to achieve the common
goal of "more fish in the water" "Kia maha atu nga
ika i roto te wai"
Wednesday 27th July
After a powhiri from the
Hokianga hapu of the Ngapuhi iwi the visiting non-commercial fishing
representatives were welcomed onto the Whakamaharatanga Marae. Th
e manuhiri (visitors) enjoyed afternoon tea which gave us the opportunity
to meet and introduce ourselves to all present.
Ngapuhi Runanga Chairman
Sonny Tau opened the hui with an outline of what we had all come
to achieve and that everyone had the opportunity to speak freely
and share ideas.
A brief background was given
of who option4 is, our principles and how option4 formed. Scott
Macindoe then introduced the option4 team and a short summary of
what our functions are and how we go about achieving those.
"Confiscation in the name
of conservation" and marine reserves were mentioned in the context
of no-take forever areas and the response was that people needed
to hear more about marine reserves in that light as no-take is not
where Maori see their aspirations being met.
The relationship between
other recreational representatives organisations was explained and
it was accepted that option4 is a lobby group seeking to achieve
objectives very similar to the aspirations of Maori, the main goal
of "more fish in the water".
Paul Barnes gave a summary
of current fisheries management proposals that are being reviewed
and of particular interest to people of the Hokianga. Namely the
Total Allowable Catch (TAC) changes for snapper 8 (SNA8), flounder
(FLA1), kahawai, grey mullet (GMU1), kingfish (KIN8) and also the
proportional allocation system being promoted by the Ministry of
Fisheries (MFish) in the latest Initial Position Papers (IPP's)
for the above fisheries.
A major flaw was the way
in which MFish have worked out who has what share of each fishery.
This allocation process was detrimental to the interests of Maori
customary and recreational fishers, including Maori recreational
A brief history was given
of the advent of pair trawling during the 1970's and the impact
that had on the snapper 8 (SNA8) west coast North Island stock.
The Quota Management System (QMS) was introduced to halt the depletion
of our inshore fisheries. At that time some commercial fishers were
paid compensation to take less fish out of the water. Quotas were
inflated by successful challenges to initial allocations via the
Quota Appeals Authority (QAA) and many fisheries were eventually
being fished to unsustainable levels again.
A worrying aspect in the
latest MFish proposals was the admission by the Ministry that dumping
and high grading was more prevalent in SNA8 than in other snapper
management areas. This is due to a number of factors, one of which
is unbalanced quota portfolios being held by some commercial fishers
i.e. they don't have enough quota to cover the fish they actually
catch on the west coast. This inevitably leads to fishers having
a choice of paying a fine (deemed value) or not landing the fish
they have caught (dumping).
From its inception the QMS
and subsequent increases by the QAA had failed to constrain commercial
fishers to fish at a sustainable level. In contrast, recreational
fishers have voluntarily conserved 26.6% of their total catch since
1995 due to management controls. These savings have been made through
the reduction in bag limits; increased minimum size limit (MLS)
and the halving of longline hook numbers from 50 to 25.
The proportional system being
promoted by the Ministry does not take these conservation measures
into account but gives acknowledgement in the form of quota to commercial
fishers who have continued to take excess fish. Maori customary
and recreational fishing interests now catch less and smaller fish
in snapper 8 due to the reduced numbers of fish in the water.
There was some interest in
what Te Ohu Kaimoana's view on option4 stance is. While we couldn't
be specific about their views, TOKM's statement made during the
Soundings process, regarding recreational fishing was
read out to the hui,
that TAC reductions would be taken firstly from the recreational
allowance unless there was a buy back of commercial quota" 
Sonny Tau explained to the
hui the extent of Ngapuhi's commercial interest in fisheries. Although
more discussion was required with the Ngapuhi runanga, his takiwa
had been very clear in regards to their recreational fishing interests.
They wanted kaimoana on the table to feed their mokopuna before
feeding overseas customers or worse, Australian crayfish (as in
the case of kahawai). New Zealanders are missing out on access to
fish just to supply the ever-increasing export demand.
Continued overfishing will
ultimately affect all sectors, commercial and non-commercial, economically
and socially. The dilemma for Maori with commercial fishing interests
is their willingness to conserve but also the need for sustainable
funding to address social issues within their communities.
It was unanimously agreed
that the term "recreational" when referring to fishing was offensive
as it implies we play with our food. Nothing could be further from
the truth for Maori recreational fishers attending the hui. After
some discussion we agreed that the term non-commercial should represent
both Maori customary and recreational fishing interests.
Customary Management Tools
Many expressed frustration
at barriers to implementing Maori customary management tools such
as mataitai and taiapure. Te Rawara had been trying to establish
a taiapure in their rohe (area) for some time. The most vocal opponents
to mataitai applications had been the recreational boating fraternity,
many of whom were fishers. It was particularly worrying for Maori
that these tools are legitimate but the hurdles to actually implementing
them were often set too high to be achievable. One objection to
a mataitai application results in the whole process being halted.
Our collective interests
lie in our groups uniting and deciding what we want for our local
areas. Ministry have failed to deliver adequate management on a
local level for many communities. Tangata whenua had been given
the tools to manage but not the resources to fully implement and
maximise the benefits of using these tools. It was accepted that
these tools are not a substitute for good fisheries management or
realistic Quota Management Areas (QMAs).
The Ministry of Fisheries
need to consult more with Maori and also design a campaign aimed
at informing the general public of what these tools are and their
potential. It would be surprising if people, once informed, would
choose a no-take forever marine reserve over having either a mataitai
or taiapure in their area.
NZRFC representative Don
Glass gave an overview of the legislation that encompasses the marine
environment, namely the Marine Reserves Act 1971, the Fisheries
Act 1996, the Resource Management Act and the Marine Reserves Amendment
Bill currently being considered by parliament.
No-take marine reserves were
being imposed on the public and ignore the rights of tangata whenua
to manage their rohe (area) in a sustainable manner. The first marine
reserve in the Southern Hemisphere was established at Leigh, Cape
Rodney. This falls within the rohe of Ngati Wai. Ngati Wai will
soon legally challenge the Department of Conservation's actions,
this High Court action is supported by the Ngapuhi iwi.
The 2004 kahawai decision
by the Minister of Fisheries regarding the introduction of kahawai
into the QMS was flawed. The lack of available kahawai was a major
problem for many fishing from the shore or small vessels. The example
was given that while David Benson-Pope had set the recreational
allowance in KAH1 (North Cape to Cape Runaway) at 1865 tonne the
reality is the recreational sector cannot catch anywhere near that
amount. The truth is closer to an optimistic 300 tonne of harvest.
This is a clear indication that the fish are simply not in the water
and available to be caught.
The Minister's decision also
allows excessive commercial fishing to continue which we object
The allowance made for Maori
customary interests was also noteworthy. The original paper from
the Ministry advised the Minister to "allow for" customary interests
at a level of half the recreational harvest, as he is obliged to
do according to the statutory obligations set out in MFish documents.
When the Final Advice Paper (FAP) was released it was discovered
that the Ministry had advised the Minister to reduce that allowance
by half again and only allow 25% of the recreational harvest for
Maori customary interests.
Historically kahawai had
been fished heavily due to the deployment of purse seine vessels
and spotter planes to locate and scoop up entire schools of fish,
leaving very little chance for kahawai to remain in the water and
breed. The outcome of this pressure was a reduction in biomass to
very low levels. The low numbers of kahawai in the water has made
it hard for people to go out and catch a reasonable number of kahawai
to feed their family. The impact on coastal communities, particularly
Maori, has been immense.
Recreational fishing representatives
felt very aggrieved by the Minister's kahawai decision. A great
deal of effort had gone into presenting submissions, over many years,
to the Ministry and the Minister advising of the impact of excessive
commercial fishing of kahawai.
It was agreed by the NZ Big
Game Fishing Council (NZBGFC), the NZ Recreational Fishing Council
(NZRFC) and option4 that we needed to address these flaws in the
decision making process by taking legal action. It would be a very
long time before we had an opportunity to challenge so many points
of law in one court case. The ultimate objective was to obtain a
rapid rebuild of the kahawai fisheries and change the way the Minister
of Fisheries makes his decisions in the future.
Flounder and Mullet
Common to both the flounder
and grey mullet MFish management proposals were the "paper cuts"
being suggested for these fisheries, on the west and east coast
of northern New Zealand. Unconstrained commercial harvest and the
absence of tools to manage local areas have had a serious impact
on Maori customary and recreational fishers for many years. option4
supports any cuts to the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC)
that will result in the TACC capping the actual
commercial catch because that will prevent any escalation of the
existing conflict between commercial fishers and local communities
dependent on these species. However, the conflict will not be reduced
unless the cuts are sufficient to reduce the actual commercial catch
from current levels.
Other options for rebuilding
the depleted flounder and mullet fisheries in the west coast harbours
was an increase in mesh size for commercial fishers and a gradual
increase for non-commercial fishers over several years. Shorter
soak times for nets in the water are recommended to reduce wastage,
particularly in west coast harbours where lice are a major problem.
Whatever the species of importance,
we were at the hui due to the ongoing mismanagement of our precious
inshore shared fisheries. Hopes were high for the remainder of the
hui to achieve the common objective of "more fish in the
TOKM Soundings Submission 20 December 2000.
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