Your Right to Fish for Food
Barrier Marine Reserve Application
by NZ Rock Lobster Industry Council
PRIVATE BAG 24-901
Department of Conservation
Private Bag 68-908
01 October 2004
Lobster Industry Council [NZ RLIC] SUBMISSION –Aotea
( Great Barrier IslanD) Marine Reserve Application .
- The NZ RLIC is owned and operated by the consortium of nine regional
commercial stakeholder groups – CRAMACs – whose membership
is comprised of rock lobster industry personnel. CRAMAC membership
is generally inclusive of the owners of quota shares in each of the
nine rock lobster fisheries, the fishermen and women who are permit
holders and own annual catch entitlement (ACE), and by default, the
owners of packhorse rock lobster quota shares; and the Licensed Fish
Receivers (LFRs) that process and sell rock lobsters to domestic and
- The NZ RLIC provides coordination, administrative, technical, advisory
and advocacy services for each of the nine CRAMACs and/or the individual
bona fide industry members who request those services.
- The marine reserve application under discussion is one being made
for an area within the boundaries of the CRA 2 (Bay of Plenty) rock
lobster fishery management area. The CRA 2 Rock Lobster
Company Ltd is the regional representative body (CRAMAC) for the 52
quota share owners (QSOs) in the fishery. The Company is affiliated
to the NZ RLIC, and the NZ RLIC has coordinated and presented a number
of previous Company submissions in regard to marine reserve proposals
within the CRA 2 boundaries.
- The NZ RLIC confirms a significant mandate for representation and
advocacy from CRA quota owners on an annual basis by way of an audited
postal ballot. In addition to the immediate interests of the
CRA 2 industry in regard to the potential loss of fishing opportunity
and catch, the NZ RLIC has a wider interest in the current application
as it relates to process and precedent.
- The NZ RLIC is one of the 30 shareholders in, and an active contributor
to, the NZ Seafood Industry Council Ltd (SeaFIC) and strongly endorses
the SeaFIC submission on the Aotea (Great Barrier) Marine Reserve
application. The NZ RLIC believes that the generic issues raised
in the SeaFIC submission are of significant importance in the assessment
of objections to the application. Likewise the issues raised
in the submissions made by other seafood industry representative groups,
in particular the Northern Inshore Fisheries Company Ltd (TNIFCL),
also a shareholder in SeaFIC. The TNIFCL submission is strongly
endorsed by the NZ RLIC.
- An underlying objective for the NZ RLIC is that its work should
add value to lobster fisheries and to the New Zealand lobster industry.
The NZ RLIC advocates, and to the extent allowed it manages,
utilisation of marine resources whilst ensuring sustainability.
The NZ RLIC also advocates and works to consolidate and enhance the
rights-based regime that underpins fisheries (and other natural resource)
management in New Zealand.
- Commercial property rights in fisheries are the cornerstone of continued
economic, social, and environmental benefits to be derived from sustainable
utilisation. The NZ RLIC acknowledges, encourages and to a
meaningful extent facilitates a wider stakeholder group involvement
and participation in fisheries research and management processes.
The NZ RLIC advocates credible research services in support
of the fisheries management regime, and is a rock lobster research
services provider to the Minister of Fisheries. The NZ RLIC
supports the general themes of environmental protection, ecologically
sustainable development, and acknowledges that in appropriate circumstances
the closure of an area to fishing may be the correct remedy to an
identifiable risk or threat.
- The NZ RLIC does not support the current application
for the Aotea (Great Barrier) Marine Reserve. This submission,
which should be read in conjunction with submissions from SeaFIC and
TNIFICL, addresses three matters that must be properly considered
by the Minister of Conservation when evaluating objections to the
declaration of the proposed reserve, and by the Minister of Fisheries
when evaluating a request for concurrence:
- The NZ RLIC does not believe that the applicant has provided sufficient
justification for the declaration of such an extensive no-take marine
- The NZ RLIC believes that the declaration of a marine reserve as applied
for will interfere unduly with commercial fishing, adversely affect
existing usage of the area for recreational purposes, and be contrary
to the public interest.
- The NZ RLIC believes that the applicant has selectively pandered to
what the Auckland Conservancy considered might be meaningful opposition
from Great Barrier Island residents but has failed to adequately consider
the impacts on other parties likely to be affected by a closure to fishing
and by that failure has discriminated against a range of equally legitimate
interests in the area proposed as a marine reserve.
- The June 2003 NZ RLIC submission on the original Great Barrier marine
reserve proposal placed great emphasis on the Department's failure
to justify the declaration of such an immense "sanctuary" area.
The application that is now subject to public consultation does not
improve on the applicant's original rationale or justification (or
rather the lack thereof).
- The applicant relies on the current application being consistent
with the Marine Reserves Act 1971 but provides no really useful information
to support the inherent contention that such an immense closure to
fishing is necessary to protect the area for the purposes of scientific
study. Nor does the application offer sufficient evidence to
support the contention that the area itself has the characteristics
that warrant such protection under the Marine Reserves Act.
- The application ignores any basic consideration of the risks or
threats that might demand a closure to fishing. The only activity
constrained by the declaration of this marine reserve will be fishing.
The applicant is therefore confirming that "fishing is a risk
to scientific study in the area bounded by this application" or that
"fishing is a risk to the underwater scenery, natural features and
marine life in the area bounded by this application that might be
the subject of scientific study".
- Yet in the consultation documents the applicant offers no evidence
of risk, nor any assessment of potential risk.
- The current application is also notable for the absence of any meaningful
discussion or analysis about the importance or otherwise of scientific
study within the intended boundaries. There is an extremely
feeble attempt to link future scientific study opportunities for two
potential users (the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and the "Offshore Island
Research Group") without any reference to any over-arching strategic
research plan. The research needs of these two interested parties
are not elaborated on, making it impossible to weigh up the likely
benefits of having such an immense area closed to fishing so that
some (as yet) unspecified scientific study of no (as yet) demonstrable
public benefit can be undertaken.
- The NZ RLIC agrees with both SeaFIC and TNIFCL that in the absence
of clearly defined objectives and measurable outcomes the marine reserve
cannot "meet its purpose".
- It has been and continues to be a fundamental problem of the ongoing
DOC promotion of marine reserves that the Department's advocacy is
conducted in the absence of any coherent marine reserves policy.
The DOC marine reserves agenda is clear to those who have
to deal with it – there is a political and territorial imperative
– but the policy is haphazard at best.
- In December 2003 and in May 2004 the Auckland Conservancy Community
Relations Manager (Marine) wrote to the amateur fishing advocacy group
option4 stating that -
outlined in the Biodiversity Strategy 2000 supports a strategic plan
for establishing a network of areas to protect marine biodiversity.
We are currently working on such a plan for the Hauraki Gulf and are
expecting that key stakeholders and interested parties will have input
into the decision-making process.
- That attempt to justify the exclusion of fishing from the north
east coast of Great Barrier Island by linking the (then) DOC marine
reserve proposal to the Biodiversity Strategy was misleading in the
first instance and has since been recycled on many occasions. In regard
to the latter point in the statement quoted above, DOC has not considered
or presented the Aotea/Great Barrier application in any context of
a consulted and published plan to protect the biodiversity of the
- However the more important points from the NZ RLIC perspective are
that the statement infers (a) that there is little or no current protection
of marine biodiversity, and (b) that a network of areas closed to
fishing is the key to protecting marine biodiversity, and (c) that
there are threats and/or risks to marine biodiversity that must be
addressed. None of those contentions is supported by fact or
- The Fisheries Act and numerous other legislative and regulatory
provisions establish a level of protection over marine resources,
including fish and habitat, to the extent of the New Zealand 200 nm
- An application for a marine reserve made under the current Marine
Reserves Act 1971 can not have " areas set aside for the protection
of marine biodiversity and their continued preservation " as
a principle objective as claimed in S6.1 of the current application.
The Marine Reserves Act is far more explicit in its references
to " underwater scenery, natural features, or marine life "
that is shown to be " of such distinctive quality " –
" or so typical . so beautiful - or so unique " that continued
protection and preservation is necessary " for the purposes of
scientific study ". 
- In a June 2003 submission to the original marine reserve
proposal the NZ RLIC wrote –
The correct process
for anyone wanting to propose a marine reserve is to conduct a biological
and geomorphological study of preferred sites to confirm typical
or unique ; determine whether or not scientific study
is compromised by leaving the site as is; evaluate the threats and risks
to the integrity of the special features of the site, and if such threats
and risks cannot be mitigated by existing legislative or regulatory
remedies, or if scientific study is impossible whilst the status quo
prevails – then assemble a proposal to protect a specific area
for the purposes of scientific study.
- There is more that can be argued about the qualifying characteristics
of a greater than 50,000 hectare area that might justify marine reserve
status under the current Act. The applicant concedes 
that there is no underwater scenery, no natural features, and no
marine life that is " unique " and further correctly acknowledges
that the concept of " beautiful " is a subjective criterion.
Which leaves the application somewhat dependent on the characteristics
of " such distinctive quality " and " so typical ".
- The applicant's argument in support of "such distinctive quality"
relies too heavily on the speculation over the conjunction of land and
sea on the north east corner of Great Barrier Island and the sheer size
of the area applied for. There is a glaring lack of evidence
in support of the proposed boundaries. The size of the area is
only justified by the assertion that " connectivity of habitats
... may be of benefit to some marine species that utilise a range of
habitats and depths for various stages of their life history "
- another issue which is clearly out of scope of the purposes
and principles of the current Marine Reserves Act.
- The NZ RLIC submits that the current application is opportunistic.
It may be strategic in the context of the political, departmental
and/or Auckland Conservancy agendas, but it is less so in the context
of current legislative and regulatory arrangements as diverse as the
Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act, the Fisheries Act, or even the current
Marine Reserves Act.
- If the underlying "test" of the Marine Reserves Act is that a marine
reserve should best serve the public interest then this current application
must fail. The application document contains neither rationale
nor justification for the exclusion of fishing for the purposes of scientific
study and the application itself sits in isolation from any wider consideration
of a marine reserves policy that fits within national policy on marine
protected areas and/or is consistent with the underlying rights-based
fisheries management regime that enables utilisation of fisheries resources
and has given effect to the settlement of Treaty grievances.
- The applicant chose to demean and dismiss the often vocal community
opposition to the initial Great Barrier marine reserve proposal.
There are numerous well documented expressions of concern and frustration
by fishing clubs, fishing representatives, and individuals, which
are punctuated by advertisements objecting to the proposal being taken
in Auckland newspapers.
- The current application is essentially unchanged in terms of the
boundaries, other than the concessions made to resident non-commercial
fishing interests. This despite a high degree of public interest
and concern demonstrated by Auckland amateur boating and fishing interests
- The NZ RLIC submits that the Auckland Conservancy effectively pre-empted
the final public consultation process with the following media statement
Auckland DoC boss
Rob McCallum made it clear fishers had already had their say.
made their views well known," he said.
all along that if you have to travel 60 nautical miles from Auckland
to the far side of an island, it's hard to show you are adversely affected
when you can fish almost anywhere else in the gulf."
- The notion that fishing can be undertaken " almost anywhere
else in the gulf " is one that pervades a great deal of DOC marine
reserves commentary. The notion that objectors have to show they are
adversely affected in order to warrant consideration rather than the
applicant properly demonstrating otherwise is not one conceded by
the NZ RLIC.
- S5.4 of the current application asserts that –
The establishment of the proposed
reserve makes up a very small part of the Quota Management Areas and
the majority of these areas will continue to be available for commercial
- S5.7 acknowledges that some recreational or amateur fishers (sic)
may be affected by the proposal but opines that –
sites for boat and land based fishing exist elsewhere around Great Barrier
Island and in the wider Hauraki Gulf and Coromandel Peninsula areas.
- All three of those DOC pronouncements reveal the applicant's complete
lack of understanding of fishing, fishing behaviour, the relevance
of Quota Management Area boundaries, and the inevitable effects of
displacement from established fishing grounds.
- The applicant repeats the error of understanding in S.4 of the "
Analysis of Commercial Fishing (Catch and Effort )"
. Statistical area 905 covers
a significant length of coast including the inner Hauraki Gulf and islands.
The proposed reserve, which covers only the coastline on the
northeast of Great Barrier Island, makes up a very small part of statistical
- That statement is technically correct, but when considering rock
lobster catch and effort data it is reasonable to expect a reference
to the proposed reserve being some estimated proportion of the area
fished by commercial operators within the statistical area (administrative)
boundaries. Small in the context used by the applicant is not
necessarily insignificant in terms of importance to fishing.
- The NZ RLIC submission is that the declaration of a marine
reserve will unduly interfere with fishing – commercial
- The applicant obviously presumes that a superficial reference to,
rather than a credible analysis of, commercial catch data provided
by MFish is sufficient to inform the assessment and evaluation of
objections that must be done by the Ministers of Conservation and
Fisheries. The NZ RLIC submits that the current application
is negligent in this regard.
- The Aotea/Great Barrier application is distinguished by the greater
than 50,000 hectare area coverage. In this instance more than
most other past and current marine reserve proposals, size does matter.
This is especially true when the application is placed in the
context of the existing and intended fishing exclusions in the Hauraki
Gulf region. With numerous area and method exclusions, commercial
exclusion zones, existing marine reserves, the ARC marine park intended
to become a marine reserve, harbours closed to fishing, shipping lane
exclusions, Naval exclusions and proposals for a marine reserve at
Mimiwhangata, the current application deserves and has received special
scrutiny by the commercial and non-commercial fishing communities.
- The application itself readily acknowledges existing extractive
use for commercial and recreational purposes. The applicant
has negotiated concessions for specific affected parties in recognition
of their history of occupation and use of fishing grounds.
- The applicant has also modified the original marine reserve boundaries
to enable recreational activities in the proximity of Great Barrier
Island settlements  .
In this regard the applicant has therefore conceded that fishing is
an activity that is valued by those who fish and of sufficient importance
to those persons to oblige concessions being made to specific interests.
The applicant therefore agrees the proposition that the
declaration of a marine reserve will " interfere with or adversely
effect . existing usage of the area for recreational (non-commercial
- However the application is silent as to why the common law right
of all New Zealanders to fish within the constraints of amateur daily
bag limits and an enhanced, exclusive non-commercial fishing opportunity
are accorded to some persons but denied to a much larger number of
- Likewise the application is silent as to why selective and exclusive
non-commercial fishing opportunity is given priority over statutory
fishing rights owned by commercial interests.
- The concerns of those two categories of existing extractive users
are not met by an admonition that they can fish elsewhere in the Hauraki
Gulf or some other part of the relevant quota management area.
- The following section of the NZ RLIC submission will focus on the
errors of judgement and understanding that lead the applicant to assert
that the concerns and objections of affected parties are met by telling
them they can go somewhere else.
- Dealing firstly with the status of quota management areas –
QMA boundaries are primarily administrative. It is generally
the intention to catch and land fish on a fishing trip – in
which case fishing trips are made to fishing grounds on which fisherfolk
consider they have a reasonable chance of fishing success.
There is more area within a QMA boundary that is not fished for rock
lobster (and other species) than is.
- That is the case because fish and shellfish are not evenly distributed
in size, condition, or abundance across every square metre within
a QMA boundary. The areas of importance for fishing in any
QMA are the fishing grounds – the conjunction of natural systems
and processes, habitat, bathymetry, biology and behaviour that determine
fishing success as measured by catch, catch rate, and the value of
the landed catch.
- The closure of fishing grounds within any QMA effectively confounds
the quality and the quantity, and the value of the commercial property
rights owned by Quota Share Owners, permit holders and ACE owners,
and also compromises agreed fishery management outcomes.
- A superficial analysis of the three most recent years of reported
commercial landings in statistical areas 008 and 905, combined with
an irrelevant (in the context of evaluating potential interference
with fishing) comparison of catch and effort in other nearby statistical
areas  ignores the particular
importance of spatial and temporal access to fishing grounds in (a)
the construct of the New Zealand fisheries management regime and (b)
the intended fisheries management outcomes. That same analysis
falls woefully short of quantifying the potential effects on fishing
if the marine reserve is declared.
- A more obscure but no less important point that must be made –
and in the view of the NZ RLIC must be very carefully considered by
Ministers - is that it could be construed to " otherwise be contrary
to the public interest  "
to erode the quality and integrity of the rights based regime that
enables and ensures sustainable utilisation of fisheries resources
in New Zealand waters.
- The reef systems adjacent to Great Barrier Island produced (and
continue to produce) catches that are used in the stock assessments
that established TACCs when the Bay of Plenty rock lobster fishery
entered the Quota Management System (QMS) in 1990, and the TACs and
TACCs implemented since. The time series of data for stock
assessments commences in 1949 
- The catch histories of individual commercial operators generated
the Transferable Term Quotas (now Individual Transferable Quotas –
ITQs) that constrain commercial landings to sustainable levels.
Individual catch histories were derived from a geographical and temporal
spread of rock lobster fishing effort which included the fishing grounds
of Great Barrier Island. The relevant catch history years
are 1982 to 1988 inclusive.
- The distribution of the rock lobster fishing fleet was and is predicated
by the abundance of lobsters on fishing grounds within a reasonable
distance of ports of domicile. Commercial rock lobster fishermen
have long established "territories", both communal and individual,
which are known by fishermen to have limitations on their productive
capacity somewhat proportional to overall rock lobster stock abundance.
Any exclusion from fishing grounds interferes unduly with commercial
fishing at the individual and collective level across the rock lobster
- Yes, it is true that commercial fishermen (as they all are in this
instance) who are displaced from fishing grounds inside the proposed
marine reserve, can go elsewhere in the QMA. There is no evidence
to suggest that all are able to. They obviously don't want
to otherwise they would not be fishing around Great Barrier now and
in the past. The costs of relocation or the additional steaming
time to reach other fishing grounds, plus the difficulties of establishing
an ongoing rather than occasional presence as an "intruder" on an
already fished territory could be extremely demanding on fishermen
in a physical, emotional and financial manner.
- However if they were forced to make a move the chances of them catching
the same species, the same quantities, and/or the same quality of
fish and shellfish are not the same as the opportunity they are forced
to forego. Nor is the prospect of catching those fish or shellfish
at the time that is of greatest value to fishermen (something inherent
in their existing fishing opportunity) assured to them.
- Commercial fishermen operate along the north eastern coast of Great
Barrier Island (and elsewhere) because there is catch to be taken
at times and in conditions where fishing success is less on other
- Elsewhere in the QMA commercial fishing is already being undertaken.
In effect, all the available fishing opportunity is already
"allocated" and in the case of the CRA 2 rock lobster fishery can
be demonstrated to be fully subscribed. Fishermen forced to
leave the area designated as a marine reserve are not accompanied
by the fish or shellfish that they would otherwise catch – and
wherever fishermen might move to (assuming they have the ability and
the capacity to move) they will be competing with existing users for
a share of available abundance.
- No "extra" catch elsewhere in the quota management area, or even
within a reasonable distance of the reserve boundaries, is created
by the declaration of a marine reserve. The net effect of the
declaration is that 100% of the currently available fishing grounds
and the available stock abundance on those grounds is reduced to some
lesser amount by the prohibition on extractive use.
- Does that reduction amount to interfering unduly with commercial
Yes , it does if you are the commercial fishermen
who have long regarded the north east coast of Great Barrier Island
as an integral part of their fishing portfolio.
Yes , if you are the commercial fishermen
elsewhere in the CRA 2 management area who may inherit the effort
displaced from Great Barrier Island fishing grounds.
Yes, if you are the commercial stakeholder
organisation that has been and is actively promoting a spread of rock
lobster fishing effort across the CRA 2 fishing grounds in order to
maintain an orderly and profitable commercial fishery during a period
of relatively low stock abundance, and in order to avoid gear and
spatial conflicts within the commercial sector and between them and
the legitimate non-commercial extractive users.
Yes , if you are the quota share owners and
ACE owners who are cooperating in the implementation of a fishery
management plan intended to increase future stock abundance and improve
the quality of commercial and non-commercial fishing in CRA 2 –
some measure of increased stock abundance will inevitably be forfeited
in order to compensate for the permanent loss of catch from the area
designated as a marine reserve.
Yes , if you are the fishery manager who
has oversight of a fishery management plan that is intended to derive
the maximum cultural, social, and economic benefits from the available
Yes , if you are the stock assessment scientist
who has until now included the yield from Great Barrier Island fishing
grounds in every assessment done for the CRA 2 fishery but will in
future have to adjust the assessment model by some as yet unspecified
measure to avoid overstating future vulnerable biomasses.
Yes , if you are the decision maker who has
used biomass estimates derived from stock assessments to set a TAC
and make allowances for customary and amateur removals, other sources
of fishing related mortality, and commercial fishing. The TAC
and all those allowances will need to be re-evaluated as a
consequence of an area closure.
Yes, if you are a commercial (or non-commercial)
fisherman who inadvertently strays inside the marine reserve boundaries
when setting or using fishing gear because the size of the reserve
is such that it is impossible for the Department of Conservation to
mark the seaward boundaries, and is detected and prosecuted for the
incursion because he/she has no way of proving it was not deliberate.
- A small family owned and operated vertically integrated fishing
company  has built a successful
and reputable business based on rotational harvest of kina (sea urchin)
to ensure regular production of quality product. That company
is based in Whitianga and routinely travels to various dive locations
depending on weather and market orders. The effort deployed
in any one location will vary from year to year, but each location
plays an important part in the overall annual harvest because if an
area is closed to fishing then the company must put additional effort
into the remaining areas in order to maintain harvest levels and catch
- This company estimates that their team of divers has harvested in
excess of 95% of the reported commercial catch of kina in the 008
statistical area within the quota management area SUR1B. Dive
locations within 008 are the main sources of SUR 1B kina catches.
Great Barrier Island sits within the 008 statistical area boundaries.
- The reported kina landings for 008 are 408 tonnes for the three
fishing years commencing October 2000. The fishing company
reliably estimates approximately 60 tonnes was harvested from the
area inside the proposed marine reserve boundaries.
- Quality is a major issue when it comes to kina product – not
every kina is suitable for the market, so harvest is selective.
The quality of kina varies across the dive locations. The kina
harvested from the north east coast of Great Barrier Island is of
high quality compared with kina elsewhere on the coastline within
008. The 60 tonnes of kina harvested from the north east coast
of Great Barrier Island is just under 15% of the total 008 harvest
but because of the superior quality is at least 20% of the dollar
value of that harvest. If the proposed marine reserve is declared
this kina fishing company will be significantly affected and will
be forced to rebuild and re-structure its existing fishing plan in
order to maintain production and profitability. The NZ RLIC
considers this to be a prime example of undue interference with commercial
fishing and submits that the Minister should uphold this objection.
answers to the question –
- " What happens to fishing activity when a marine reserve is
- Commercial and non-commercial fisherfolk who previously fished in
the area will stop fishing or will move to the reduced area outside
the reserve still available for fishing.
- If fisherfolk move, fishing activity will increase in the smaller
area outside of the reserve;
- This is likely to lead to increased conflicts within and between different
types of fisherfolk (customary, commercial and recreational) and greater
competition to catch fewer fish;
- This could ultimately result in the catch limits for the fishery being
reduced – i.e. fewer fish for everyone.
- If fisherfolk cannot move and therefore stop fishing, there will be
social and economic costs for them and for their communities.
the effect against other values involved.
- Those consequences cannot be dismissed with the admonition that
has been consistently published by the applicant – " they
can fish elsewhere ". The NZ RLIC submits that the current application
is grossly deficient in terms of any meaningful analysis of (a) the
social and economic costs associated with fishing exclusions, and
(b) evidence of the public benefit from the declaration of a marine
- The NZ RLIC understands that amongst the factors to be taken into
account by Ministers when evaluating this application is an assessment
of the likely benefits (of the area being declared a no-take marine
reserve) versus the potential interference to a range of interests
and activities including fishing. Any such assessment requires
Ministers to weigh the effect on fishing against the overall public
benefit of the proposed reserve.
- That being the case, Ministers require certain information from
the applicant, including evidence of the overall benefit being denied
to the public as a consequence of the existing status of the area.
No such evidence is offered by the applicant. The applicant
cannot demonstrate the area to be unique, or of any more distinctive
quality, or any more typical than other sites within the Hauraki Gulf
region, some of which are already closed to fishing.
- Even when choosing to ignore the statutory link to protection for
the purposes of scientific study, the applicant cannot elucidate one
threat or risk to the existing biodiversity of the proposed area and
certainly cannot demonstrate any risk associated with fishing.
The applicant cannot sustain the proposition that the marine environment
in the Hauraki Gulf region generally or the Great Barrier coastline
in particular is "unprotected". It follows that whatever environmental
qualities or intrinsic and existence values exist within the proposed
marine reserve, they exist in spite of, as a consequence of, or in
isolation from the fishing activities that the applicant seeks to
exclude. Further, their very existence confirms that the current level
of "protection" is effective and adequate.
- The applicant offers no evidence that the overall benefit to the
public is any less as a consequence of scientific study within the
proposed marine reserve boundaries being compromised by fishing 
. Taking those facts into account, on what basis are Ministers
expected to credibly conclude that the declaration of this marine
reserve will be in the " best interests of scientific study and
will be for the benefit of the public 
- Ministers can only come to such a conclusion if they are satisfied
that the applicant has demonstrated that the degree of interference
with commercial fishing is not "undue". What information has
the applicant given the Ministers to assist that consideration? The
current application contains no information on which to conclude that
a fishing exclusion is justifiable and/or warranted in the circumstances.
Nor can Ministers credibly discern that excluding fishing is worthwhile.
- In those circumstances the NZ RLIC submits that the Ministers must
uphold the objections made to the application.
a way forward – balancing utilisation and protection
- It is quite clear that the Department of Conservation – and
in this instance the Auckland Conservancy – is aggressively
pursuing a marine reserves agenda. The NZ RLIC believes that
the agenda reflects both political and departmental ambitions that
are hardly likely to be deterred by relatively small numbers of aggrieved
fishermen – be they commercial or non-commercial – given
the authority vested in the Minister of Conservation and the environmental
protection policies articulated by the current Government.
- The NZ RLIC notes with interest that the background to the current
application places considerable emphasis on the terrestrial environment
of Great Barrier Island and the fact that the majority of the land
bordering the north-east coast of the island is public conservation
land. Almost from the outset the marine reserve proposal, now
the current application, has been pushed hard by the Auckland Conservancy.
An observer could reasonably conclude that the applicant proceeded
on the basis that 50,000 hectares of coastal marine area was wanted
(to complement the terrestrial reserve and fulfil a more eco-centric
"earth to ocean, blue/green corridor" philosophy) rather than justified
by the need to protect marine biodiversity for the purposes of scientific
- It is the view of the NZ RLIC that the Minister of Conservation
cannot be satisfied on the evidence contained in this current application
that the exclusion of fishing from greater than 50,000 hectares of
the QMA 1 and CRA 2 coastal marine area can be justified. However
it is highly likely that the Minister himself will disagree with that
view. He has certainly disagreed with objectors to other marine
reserves  .
- If the Minister of Fisheries can be persuaded that the Minister
of Conservation is right and that the NZ RLIC and other objectors
are wrong, then the tension, mistrust and occasional open hostility
that marks the existing relationship between fishing interests (both
commercial and non-commercial) and the Department of Conservation
will be heightened by the declaration of the Aotea (Great Barrier)
Marine Reserve. In that situation the implementation of a marine
reserves agenda and/or the community acceptance of a protectionist
mantra from politicians and Government agencies is inevitably fraught
with potential protest, criticism, litigation and delay.
- The applicant for the Aotea (Great Barrier Island) marine reserve
has essentially "bought off" objections to the marine reserve application
which in the applicant's estimation may have been upheld by the Ministers
of Conservation and Fisheries and thereby compromised the Auckland
Conservancy's marine reserves agenda.
- It is hard to reconcile the concessions that are being promised
to a select few given that the common law right to fish applies to
all New Zealand citizens. The applicant has publicly derided
the concerns of the Auckland recreational fishing community on the
basis that few vessels use the area proposed as a reserve.
Yet the concerns of significantly fewer individuals who live adjacent
to the area are answered with concessions of exclusive access to fish
a public resource.
- It is also difficult to understand why all commercial fishing within
the marine reserve boundary will be prohibited when much of the activity
related to lobsters and kina is conducted within the 200 metre swathes
conceded to selected persons.
- As a general principle the NZ RLIC promotes a "one out, all out"
policy in relation to areas closed to fishing. However the concessions
granted by the applicant in this instance show a glimmer of hope that
marine reserve proponents might be encouraged to adopt a more responsible
and responsive approach to providing opportunity adjustments if fishing
must be excluded from an area to meet the purposes of the Marine Reserves
- The currency used to settle the grievance with selected persons
 on Great Barrier Island
is an enhanced and exclusive fishing opportunity. Setting aside
the implicit discrimination between "resident" and non-resident fisherfolk,
or the absolute discrimination between "residents" and all commercial
fishermen, the key issue is that the applicant has recognised the
potential opportunity cost to some of the existing extractive users
and has dealt with it in a mutually agreed manner. The only
problem associated with that situation is the applicant's failure
to properly acknowledge, let alone assign equal importance to the
opportunity cost to all extractive users, by category and
- The Aotea (Great Barrier Island) application is perhaps the catalyst
for DOC and the Minister of Conservation to take a more strategic
pause to reflect on how the competing philosophies of utilisation
whilst ensuring sustainability and absolute protection can best be
reconciled. The sustainable utilisation of seafood resources
in New Zealand is underpinned by a robust property rights regime.
There are simply no excuses for not pursuing property rights
solutions to the competing interests that arise when changing Government
priorities and societal expectations overtake established and sustainable
extractive use of marine resources.
- In the meantime, the NZ RLIC submits that the Minister of Conservation
should uphold the NZ RLIC and other seafood industry stakeholder objections
made to the declaration of the Aotea (Great Barrier Island) Marine
Reserve and instruct the applicant to thoroughly reconsider the need
for, the location of, and the real costs and benefits of a no-take
marine protected area in the waters surrounding Great Barrier Island.
NZ Rock Lobster
Text in italics lifted from S.6.1 of the application.
S.6.1 page 28
S.6.1 page 27 of the application
Whangapoua estuary – and special arrangements made with the
Mabey family and with the Rope Family Trust.
Analysis of Commercial Fishing (Catch and Effort) – DOC, Auckland
Conservancy June 2004
S.5(6)(e) Marine Reserves Act 1971
Rock Lobster Fishery Assessment Working Group – 2002 Plenary
Mr. Peter Herbert, Flaxmill Bay, Whitianga
It is nonsense for the applicant to infer – S3.1 of the application
– that the potential for scientific study on the north east coast
of Great Barrier Island is sufficient justification for the declaration
of a marine reserve. If potential for scientific study was truly
a determining factor and/or if fishing was the limitation on such study
then the entire EEZ could be closed to fishing.
S.5(9) Marine Reserves Act 1971.
Southland Times June 5 th 2004 – " Mr. Carter launched a
stinging attack on the Southland Recreational Fishers Association opposed
to the (Ulva Island) marine reserve . Mr. Carter said silly objections
from selfish groups were slowing the drive towards the Government's aim
of vesting 10 percent of New Zealand coastline as marine reserves ."
Mr. Carter has since corrected the 10 percent aim to one of "marine
Not all of whom are confirmed in the current application as being
residents of Great Barrier Island – which on the face of the application
seems to be the qualification for being granted an exclusive fishing right.
(Sections 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3 of the current application).