|Two years ago over 2000 recreational fishermen sent me emails about the disappearance of the kahawai, and my working relationship with option4 was born.
Since that time the option4 team have taught me a great deal about the drastic reduction in stocks of the fish so central to the pleasure of the Kiwi recreational fishing community. They have helped me with suggestions to advance their cause and encouraged me by their own commitment and determination.
After early discussions I decided something needed to be done. I attempted to pass an amendment to the Fisheries No 3 Bill in October 2004, aimed at delaying the introduction of kahawai into the Quota Management System. Since the introduction of kahawai had already been gazetted, Parliamentary procedure dictated that such a delay could only have been realised by an Act of Parliament. This is what my amendment would have achieved.
The Government was depending upon the support of United Future to pass the Bill. The Minister of Fisheries, David Benson-Pope, was unwilling to listen to my argument, but I was optimistic that I could win backing for the amendment from other parties. This would force the Government to reconsider.
National, ACT and the Greens initially indicated their support.
But politics is a complicated business. While we might wish for voting driven by nothing but individual conscience, manoeuvring, horse-trading and party positioning are the reality.
New Zealand First were not prepared to give their support unless there was something specific in it for them. Then ACT decided to vote for the newly created property right of commercial fishermen over those long held rights of every New Zealander. The Greens, quick to spot the opportunity to negotiate for their own agenda in return for supporting the Bill without amendment, gave their backing to the Minister. With no power to negotiate with, there was nothing further I could do for the concerns of many thousands of recreational fishers and that stage.
Since then I have watched with enormous admiration the dedication and determination of the option4 team as they have set about building support for the Kahawai Legal Challenge, eventually lodging a claim with the High Court on August 12. I give you my word that United Future and Outdoor Recreation remain committed to representing the interests of New Zealand’s non-commercial fishing community in Parliament.
More information on our approach can be found on our website at http://www.unitedfuture.org.nz/policies/outdoors-8-marine.php