Fishing rights reform
Discussions designed to reform non-commercial fishing rights and representation are underway with the release of two separate proposals; one from a South Island group, the other from the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council.
Both proposals seek to generate support by scare mongering, by emphasising the ability of Maori and commercial fishers to promote their interests, at the supposed expense of recreational fishers.
What they fail to add is that more than half the adults fishing within the amateur fishing regulations are of Maori descent and that their catch is most often taken home as food for the whanau.
Time and again at Hokianga Accord hui this issue has been raised, and every time the response from both Ngapuhi and Ngati Whatua has been the same: where there is tension between commercial and non-commercial interests, commercial will give way to enable people to feed their families.
Also, it is the Minister and Ministry that bear the brunt of any collective action by Maori and commercial interests, because the Minister, Phil Heatley, is the final fisheries management decision-maker.
The reformers’ proposed solution is to have the government give statutory authority to a body to make decisions on behalf of all recreational fishers, including Maori.
But let’s be clear. Only Ngati Whatua and Ngapuhi will determine who is to represent their interests in any forum, including any statutory bodies.