Letter by John Glaister, MFish CEO
This letter was originally published in the Northern Advocate on 17 January 2006 in response to a Steve Radich article
I would like to temper some of the comments made by Steve Radich in his recent article in the Northern Advocate on the state of recreational fisheries.
Assessing the state of fisheries and setting appropriate limits is a difficult and complex job. In assessing populations on land, we can count the actual number of sheep or trees, but the same does not apply when assessing populations of fish in the sea. However, your readers can be assured that New Zealand fisheries science is world-class and is regularly reviewed by overseas experts.
The scientists in Niwa and other research organisations responsible for our scientific assessments are acknowledged as being leaders in their field. We don’t always get the assessments and management exactly right but, compared with other countries, our track record is good.
Our recreational fisheries are also world class, as shown by photos of successful anglers in recreational fishing magazines and in TV programmes. In many parts of the world inshore fisheries have been decimated but New Zealanders are fortunate to have access to healthy fisheries.
In very few countries do people have ready access to existing fisheries on the doorstep of major cities as we do in New Zealand. However it is reasonable that New Zealanders want to see recreational fisheries improved and to raise concerns where they believe this is not occurring.
Many concerns about fisheries in New Zealand are about allocation – how much of the available catch is allocated to commercial and non-commercial fishers. The Minister is required to consider the interest of all sectors when making allocation decisions and cannot always meet everyone’s expectations.
The Minister of Fisheries and the Ministry have demonstrated a commitment to recreational fishing interests – both through allocation decisions and working with recreational fishing representatives. For example, in 2005 the Minister established national and regional recreational advisory bodies to advise on recreational issues.
He also approved changes to a number of regulations that recreational representatives had identified as being important to recreational fishers and these were announced just before Christmas.
The Ministry, fisheries scientists, and all fishers – commercial and non-commercial – have a role to play in ensuring that our fisheries remain healthy now and in the future. The Ministry looks forward to working with all interests to ensure New Zealand continues to enjoy the benefits of healthy fisheries.
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