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Hui Report July 2005



Whakamaharatanga Marae Hui

Page 2

A hui to discuss non-commercial fishing interests and Maori customary management tools

27-29 July 2005

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Thursday 28th July

Managing fisheries above Bmsy Funding
Conservation Recreational fishing

Much of Thursday morning was spent discussing, debating and finally agreeing on a statement and a set of questions to be put to MFish when they joined the hui. The Ministry delegation was due at 11am so discussions got underway early; the session was ably chaired by Hori Porata of Ngati Wai iwi.

The Ministry team of six were lead by Stan Crothers, deputy CEO of MFish, and included the manager of the Customary Relationships team, Carl Ross. Graeme Morrell, the Pou Hononga representative of Northland had participated in the hui from the outset.

Stan gave a brief presentation "Whakapapa of Maori fishing rights" so everyone understood the Crown's perspective. This included a description of pre-1840 fishing rights through to present day management and rights. Stan emphasised that MFish are committed to delivering on the Crown's obligations in regards to the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement and the Maori Fisheries Act 2004.  

A series of questions (Appendix One) were sent to the Ministry before the hui so we had some understanding of MFish's opinion on specific matters. Some answers (Appendix Two) received prior to the hui needed clarification and more detail. The questions prepared during the morning were to expand on those answers and seek commitment from MFish on statements made since the last hui at Whitiora Marae.


Managing Fisheries Above Bmsy

  1. We are encouraged and excited to hear the policy announced at NZRFC conference - Managing important inshore shared fisheries at or significantly above Bmsy. How will this be achieved and how can we help achieve this?


MFish Response (Stan Crothers unless stated otherwise)

Managing stocks above or substantially above Bmsy means that there will be more fish in the water and better catch rates for commercial, recreational and Maori customary fishers. "That has not been government policy until now, this is a new policy." Ministry are still trying to work through what that means in operational terms. Under this policy catching costs will be lower when there are more fish available but there will be increased costs in the meantime to achieve this, as there will be lower catch rates.   Ministry are still looking into whether the law will provide for it and what are the constraints on achieving the new policy. MFish target up until this new policy has been to manage fisheries to Bmsy. The Minister has discretion to manage fisheries below, at or above Bmsy. "This has been new to the Ministry and we are looking at how best we can implement the wishes of our Minister."

The Minister realises that by leaving more fish in the water it will improve catch rates. There is a limit to that; there comes a point where it becomes negative in terms of utilisation of the fishery. There would be a possibility of reduced bag limits at that time.

The Ministry was asked why they readily acknowledge that managing fisheries above Bmsy will improve catch rates for Maori customary and recreational fishers but seem to fail to acknowledge that running fisheries below Bmsy suppresses our catch rates i.e. SNA8, flounder 1, grey mullet 1 and possibly kahawai. "We, the Ministry are not happy with the state of snapper 8 (SNA8)." The Ministry thought SNA8 was rebuilding, the recent research has shown it has not, so proposals are out for consultation on a new rebuild strategy. "The challenge in the future is, do we manage it above Bmsy and how do we get there?"

The Ministry are not succeeding to manage to Bmsy in many fisheries, resources are constrained and the research is limited. The data on recreational catch is very poor. Snapper 1 (east coast upper North Island) is one fishery where Ministry can claim a rebuild strategy has worked. The Ministry's job is to manage fisheries to sustainable levels, the debate is, at what level is sustainable?

Impacts on Marine Environment

The Ministry of Fisheries accepts that "one of the things we do poorly in New Zealand is coastal planning." In many cases where fish stocks are doing poorly it is the result of the destruction of the habitat and not necessarily over fishing. Deforestation is causing sedimentation, which is having a "severe impact on the habitat or our fish stocks". We need to find ways to work together to solve the issues of coastal planning.

The Ministry are working closer with the Department of Conservation. The Ministry had not done a good job to date in representing the interests of fish stocks in the coastal planning area. MFish are now taking a more ecosystem based approach to fisheries management.

Maori Input into Fisheries Management

The Ministry recognise there is difficulty in dealing with the 75 iwi and 1150-1200 hapu around the country. MFish has now proposed regional forums to bring together the iwi and hapu of each area so they can work together on fisheries plans. This scheme has been trailed in the eastern Bay of Plenty over the past few years.

Carl Ross is the manager of the new Cultural Relationship unit so Maori can have better input into fisheries management. The regional forums need resources and the capability to develop fisheries plans. MFish are providing the resources to enable iwi and hapu to participate more fully in the official processes.

Ministerial Advisory Panel

There was interest in how the Tai Tokerau representative on this advisory panel was appointed. MFish responded by advising the hui that nominations were called from the public and the Minister chose who he wanted on the panel to advise him. This panel is one of two initiatives to improve stakeholder input into fisheries management at a strategic level, not operational level.

The regional forums will provide recreational fishers with an opportunity for input. Arthur Hore has been managing that process and the MFish CEO is due to announce the appointments within the next few weeks. These are forums for recreational fishers; the process is distinct from the process for Maori customary interests.

It was pointed out that Judah Heihei's group in the Bay of Islands had instigated the only gazetted mataitai in the north. The process was flawed if people who had already had initiatives underway were not informed of the availability of appointments to such advisory forums. If this is the case then the Ministry acknowledged there is a possibility that more information needs to be given out by the Pou Hononga of Tai Tokerau so people such as Judah and his team are aware of what is happening.


There seems to be no account taken of conservation measures taken by non-commercial fishers in the latest Ministry of Fisheries proposals, particularly in SNA8. Recreational fishers have conserved over 26% of catch since voluntary measures to reduce take were put in place. The Ministry have acknowledged that dumping and high grading is a bigger problem in SNA8 than in other snapper fisheries. In the latest IPP's it seems the Ministry are using the conservation efforts of non-commercial fishers to supplement over fishing and wastage by the commercial sector . Give us, the non-commercial sector, an incentive to conserve and we probably will. But at the moment there is none.

  1. What are the incentives to conserve and how are they to be implemented?

MFish Response

The rebuild strategy implemented in 1998 for SNA8 has not been successful. The Ministry target of 22% of virgin biomass has not been attained and currently SNA8 is around 10% of the original unfished biomass.

It is in all of our interests to rebuild the fishery; we need to work together to achieve this rebuild "I don't think that sacrificing one particular sector for the others is the way to go. A balanced approach needs to be taken. Everyone has to contribute to the rebuild strategy, not just one particular sector..we all need to share in the pain of rebuilding and all benefit from that rebuild"

Proportional Allocations

Effective fisheries management is not in a proportional approach as one sector can damage a fishery and the negative impact of doing so would be spread across all sectors.

Effective management will be achieved when two factors are taken into account:

  1. Those who cause the damage to the fishery take the necessary cuts to rebuild it.
  2. Those who conserve are acknowledged by making allowance for that effort.

MFish Response

MFish "accept that those who cause the damage should pay". That principle is well enshrined in the Fisheries Act. In allocations decisions there are proportions of the TAC given to each sector. " There does need to be incentives, within those proportions, for those people not to be 'punished'. for the poor performance of the other sectors."

In the Ministry's Statement of Intent (SOI) fisheries plans are discussed and how to achieve better fisheries management.

"It is true, the way we manage fisheries right now there are not a great deal of incentives for recreational fishers or Maori customary fishers to conserve, other than their belief that the fish stocks should be in a healthy state. We do need a fisheries management planning framework where contributions are truly reflected." MFish do not believe they have the information available to measure the nature and extent of the contributions being made. There is very poor information on recreational and Maori customary harvest.

Once the customary fisheries regulations are in place kaitiaki will be able to provide information on what is being taken within their rohe. This information will be very important so that those contributions can be taken into account.

MFish have been trying for a long time to determine the nature and extent of recreational fishing interests. The Ministry accept it is a problem and are trying to address it so that conservation efforts can be recognised.

Answers to questions regarding specific fisheries currently being consulted on i.e. SNA8, FLA1, GMU1 and kahawai could not be given as the statutory process is still underway. MFish encourage stakeholders to submit their views and any information they have that will help the Ministry determine what level of contribution they are making.

"The way recreational fishing rights are described in legislation and the institutional arrangements that are in place for recreational fishing.which are largely voluntary, do not provide significant incentives for recreational fishers to conserve."




  1. Are we to have any input into how the $4 M allocated in the last budget, for consultation, is to be spent?
    • New initiatives funding.
    • Public awareness.
    • Maori fisheries settlement processes.

MFish Response

"Last year there was new initiative funding for both recreational and customary areas." In the recreational fishing area the government has asked the Ministry to set up regional forums. The Minister has also asked Ministry "to set up an advisory body to him so that we can get better information from the recreational sector both in a strategic and operational sense."

The year before last an extra $4 million was allocated for recreational research, so the Minister can get better information on the nature and extent of recreational fishing. There has been a "heavy investment" in the customary area. Focus is on establishing the Pou Hononga, the MFish's relationship building unit for tangata whenua interests.

Ministry are also investing in "extension officers" who will help tangata whenua with fisheries plans and input into the wider management process. This is an attempt by Ministry to address tangata whenua's resource constraints.

The Ministry's Statement of Intent will be released in December this year and will be open for consultation for 2.5 months. Input will be sought on how the Ministry spend money on customary, recreational and commercial fishing.

Fisheries Plans

Te Rarawa has made several attempts to progress a fisheries plan for their rohe. No response was received from the Ministry in regards to the first application. The availability of an extension officer to complement the current application would be extremely helpful. MFish were asked when their application would be processed. Ministry committed to responding within a week to advise the timeframe for a decision on their application and also the possibility of providing an extension officer to assist them.


Recreational Fishing

We find the term recreational fishers offensive as it implies we play with our food. We want to use the word non-commercial fishers when referring to us.

MFish Response

Yes, with a qualification. MFish " are happy to have what we now know as recreational fishing to be called non-commercial fishing. I would not be happy, without going through due process, to have a non-commercial sector that lumps customary fishing into that. Customary fishing rights is quite separate to non-commercial fishing rights. We have specific obligations under the Deed of Settlement to deliver on customary fishing rights. They are separate. I am happy for customary fishing rights, non-commercial fishing rights and commercial rights. If that's what you are happy with, then by all means, there is no real impediment to stop us moving forward on that."


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