hui to discuss non-commercial fishing interests and Maori customary
Thursday 28th July
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
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
- 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?
Response (Stan Crothers unless
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
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
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
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
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
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.
- What are the incentives to conserve and how are they to be implemented?
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"
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:
- Those who cause the damage to the fishery take the necessary
cuts to rebuild it.
- Those who conserve are acknowledged by making allowance for
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
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."
- 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.
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.
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
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.
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."