Ministry out of Control?
While option4 has been battling
the Ministry of Fishery's outrageous proposal for kahawai, the NZ
Big Game Fishing Council has been responding to the same Ministry's
proposal for broadbill, tuna and sharks. Unfortunately, the news
doesn't get any better. Not satisfied with over ten years of unlimited
expansion in these fisheries MFish is proposing to set quotas at
150% of the best year's catch history for some species to allow
for further expansion. That is ludicrous. Obviously, the Minister
needs to take control of his runaway Ministry before the public
completely loses faith in fisheries managers.
MFish is sweeping most of
the species taken in the tuna longline fishery into the Quota Management
System by October this year. The NZBGFC have produced powerful arguments
in their submissions showing how the expansion of the commercial
fisheries will affect non-commercial fishers. The NZBGFC's submissions
relating to broadbill, tuna and sharks are online in the Fisheries
The illegal targeting of
swordfish by tuna longliners and the reality that commercial fishers
have ignored the agreements made in the Billfish Memorandum of Understanding
have been an issue for the NZBGFC for at least the last seven years.
The very rapid increase in commercial catch in the late 1990s was
a great concern to many NZBGFC members and many feel strongly that
the Minister has been stalling on effective management of this fishery.
Recent Niwa reports have
documented the use of shallow sets and chemical light sticks as
common practices used to target swordfish in New Zealand waters.
Clearly a large proportion of the swordfish catch history on which
MFish is basing its Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) is not
eligible as it was taken while illegally targeting swordfish.
Surely they cannot ask the Minister to publicly defend a TACC based
on illegal catch history.
The Ministry again have shown
an offhand and dismissive attitude to recreational concerns about
local depletion of swordfish on the most accessible seamounts. The
only suggestion made in their paper to the Minister was that they
could discuss proposals to " undertake a review of voluntary
area restrictions at some time in the future ". The truth is
there have been several meetings to discuss management changes in
this fishery to provide for all interests. Ministry officials
know that as soon as issues of catch limits and closed areas for
swordfish are raised, commercial representatives respond by asking
to keep the striped marlin they take as bycatch. Voluntary agreements
have failed with these very same fishers in the past. The stalemate
needs to be broken by regulation and enforceable rules.
Yellowfin are an important
component of recreational catch, but our catch varies more from
year to year than commercial landings. The MFish paper acknowledges
that there is potential for spatial conflict in this fishery unless
it is managed. We strongly agree, as conflict has occurred in previous
seasons when commercial and non-commercial fishers have been targeting
fish in the same area. However, the only possible solution mentioned
by the Ministry is " the yellowfin fishery may require inter-sectorial
spatial agreement if further expansion in commercial fishing is
to occur ". This is another inadequate response, given that
MFish is already proposing a significant expansion to the fishery.
The Ministry should not be
proposing large increases in catch of some species taken by tuna
longliners without considering the impact on the other species they
are going to catch. The practice of finning sharks at sea has not
been addressed and, until it is, thousands of sharks a year die
so their fins can be exported.
The Ministry seems hell-bent
on privatising, by way of the tradeable quota system, everything
that swims – indeed, everything that lives under the surface
of the sea. The latest dodge is to put a quota on seaweed. Spiny
dogfish go into the QMS in October despite the fact there is a very
limited market. And then there are marble fish. What next, spotties?
Are these daft notions Treasury
driven? Are they company driven? Or is it just bored policy makers
in the Ministry dreaming up ideas to keep their jobs in existence?
The Ministry is out of control. We, the public, fund its existence,
yet it continues to give away the public resource to commercial
The Minister has a responsibility
to manage our fisheries sustainably and in the interests of all.
Non-commercial representatives fail to see how he can make robust
management decisions based on such flawed advice from the Ministry.
We believe he would do us all a favour by taking control of a Ministry
that puts commercial interests before the sustainable management
of our fisheries and the rights of New Zealanders.
The option4 Alert # 6 is still online, as is the submission tool.
If you haven't already, please go online and make
a submission on the Ministry's proposal to allocate kahawai to
commercial interests based on catch histories developed using spotter
planes and purse seiners.
What can you do?
|Make a submission
|Make a donation
|Pass it On. Let others know about this issue and how they
can be informed