NZ Fishing News Update
Kahawai – Ministry claim “no scarcity”
The last really important inshore shared fishery, kahawai
is to enter the QMS 1/10/04. For many of us non commercial fishers
it forms the most important part of our catch. For many it is fishing
at its finest, tourists love catching a kahawai. This is one species
that all non commercial fishers have access to - from one end of
the country to the other, both east and west coasts, off the wharf,
in the harbour or out on the ocean. Kahawai is there for us all;
sustenance, sport, customary Maori, the birds and, of course, all
those commercial fishermen who legitimately target other species
and catch kahawai as an unavoidable bycatch. We can not for one
minute ignore those of us who have become accustomed to buying a
well smoked kahawai at the fish shop or supermarket.
Setting of the TAC
The kahawai fishery is divided into six Quota Management Areas (QMA’s),
four of which are important to non commercial and commercial fishers,
QMA’s 1, 2, 3 & 8. The Minister must set a TAC for each
area. His Ministry has advised him that the TAC should be the sum
of “current utilisation”. i.e. add up what they guess
we are catching, even if its nowhere near reality, and call it a
TAC. How bizarre.
The kahawai decisions are political, or so it would seem, given
the absence of credible information and data in the Ministry’s
Initial Position Paper
(IPP). Six TAC setting decisions, 12 “allow for”
decisions for non commercial and six allocations of TACC’s
to industry. Each fishery has quite distinct issues and dynamics.
The information the Ministry have based their advice on is both
inadequate and contestable.
The kahawai was fished in equilibrium for many, many years. i.e.
all sectors enjoyed good catch rates, good sized fish - abundance
and availability seemed assured for all. It was only the advent
of the target fishery for kahawai that saw that equilibrium destroyed.
This is best illustrated in KAH3 with the almost total demolition
of that fishery by purse seiners and spotter planes. Today, the
KAH 3 commercial fishers have an annual purse seine catch limit
of 1500 tonnes. They land a small fraction of that limit. In KAH1,
the area north of East Cape, an area with over 2/3 of the population
of New Zealand, industry have an annual purse seine catch limit
of 1200 tonnes. For the last 3 years they have not been able to
catch this, even though they are deploying the most sophisticated
fishing methods man has yet to devise i.e. spotter planes in conjunction
with purse seine vessels. In our opinion, there is no mana in using
a spotter plane and a purse seiner to annihilate school after school
of kahawai in order to sell them to very low value markets such
as crayfish bait, pet food and fish meal.
How does value apply to these decisions? Cynical commercial exploitation
by a very few industry players or an entire population and its guests
appreciating food, fun and reward for their efforts?
Allocation - The Key Issue
Throughout their advice paper we see the Ministry advising their
Minister to “set an allocation” of x
tonnes for the non-commercial sectors, customary Maori and recreational.
They base their recommendation for a recreational “allocation”
on the average of two much contested estimates of what we catch.
The Customary Maori “allocation” recommendation is based
on the General Criteria established by the Ministry which, if followed,
would see an “allocation” set equal to the recreational
catch. However in this case Ministry recommend an allocation of
half the recreational catch. Neither of these two recommendations
bears any resemblance to what is actually being caught. If the “allocations”
do not reflect our catch, what is their purpose? Could it be that
at some time in the future the Ministry will try to constrain us
to the “allocations set” that they are recommending.
Remember, nowhere in the Fisheries Act does it say the Minister
shall set an allocation for either the public or customary Maori
non-commercial fishers. What it does say is that when setting (or
varying) a Total Allowable Commercial Catch the Minister shall allow
for non commercial fishers – not set an allocation as the
Ministry have advised.
If the Minister’s allocation setting decision for the TACC
is too high, we run the very real risk of Ministry (in 5 or 10 years)
repeating the advice they offered their Minister on PAU 5D in 2002.
Here, they claimed that the recreational catch should be constrained
to their allowance in order to ensure that the catch being deducted
from the PAU 5D TACC would not be caught by non commercials. Thankfully,
the Minister ignored this advice and reduced the TACC which had
been set too high initially.
The Ministry state in their advice paper (Para 34, page 73), “MFish
notes that current levels of utilisation for all sectors combined
can be accommodated within the proposed TAC’s. This suggests
that currently there is no scarcity within the fishery and therefore
no clear- cut requirement to consider reallocating the fishery between
sector groups on the basis of utility value or any other considerations.”
Try telling that to the non-commercial fishers in KAH1 and KAH3
whose CPUE has been so drastically slashed. Tell that to the thousands
of people who enjoyed this incredible summer on the north east coast
of New Zealand, few of whom had the pleasure of seeing a decent
school of kahawai on the surface. Fact – they simply weren’t
evident this summer. How dare the Ministry suggest there is “no
scarcity” as they merrily cook the books to come up with
this incredibly unscientific TAC recommendation?
Effectively Ministry contends there is no need to improve non-commercial
access above current levels. Under the proposed management regime
we could in fact see the stock size fall further and kahawai become
scarcer and smaller.
Do they think they can get away with “managing” the
demolition of the publics kahawai fisheries, claim there is no scarcity
and then give away our kahawai, in perpetuity, to those they have
permitted to wreck the carnage. We must stand as one and
The above concerns are but a fraction of the concerns we have with
the Ministry’s advice. We have spent many hours working through
the advice paper to rebut the Ministry’s perspectives. Space
prevents us from detailing further concerns. Please read our full
dissection and rebuttal.
We have put together a Background
Information Package to assist in your understanding. More information
is being added online as it comes to hand, please keep a watch on
The submission deadline of 27th February applies to not only kahawai
but 18 other species. We have requested an extension to the deadline
in a letter to
the Ministry. So far we have been offered a two week extension.
option4 are still negotiating more time. It’s obvious we need
more than the few weeks we have had since the 12th January to get
out and deliver some credible process to demonstrate where the public
stand with regards to one of our most important inshore shared fisheries.
We strongly recommend you make
a submission anyway. You might simply want to endorse the work
that option4, NZRFC, NZBGFC and NZACA are doing on your behalf.
A donation to assist our work would
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