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option4 Update #44 NZFN July 2004


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Private or Public Foreshore

NZ Fishing News
July 2004

 

 

Privatisation of public resources has been happening at breakneck speed in the past few years and is concerning not only fishermen but also the millions of New Zealanders who enjoy the outdoor lifestyle. Our fisheries have been divided into tradeable quotas and now, it seems, we could lose our common law rights to the foreshore.

Information option4 has gathered suggests the Foreshore and Seabed Bill removes all common law rights of the public and creates new statutory rights in their place. Statutory rights which will be vulnerable to the whims of the government.

 

Loss of rights
Common law rights to fishing will be removed altogether if the present bill succeeds. These will be governed by the Fisheries Act 1996, regulations made under the Fisheries Act and the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992. New statutory rights will be created for access to the foreshore, seabed and for navigation.

While the intention may not have been to extinguish the common law right to fish, the effect will be profound if this bill passes in its present form.

A significant factor we have to consider is that the Ministers of Maori Affairs and Conservation will be in control of access and navigation rights. We have already witnessed the track record of the Minister of Conservation's effort over the past few years in regards to access for fishermen to our marine areas.

 

Process
Unfortunately, the process for consultation on this most fundamental issue has been shrouded in political grandstanding, adverse publicity and mistrust from so many quarters it is hard to get a grip on what is really happening. This seems to be reflected in the lack of submissions to the process. The NZ Herald reported on 8/7/04 that the committee which will be considering them had received only around 200 submissions. It's not hard to see why people are not submitting when the arguments and implications are not clear.

option4 has struggled to gather any information that gives a definitive statement of what the bill means for   us and our future generations. We simply don't have the resources to employ legal staff. Fortunately, other representative organisations have been working hard on dissecting and rebutting the bill. The Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of New Zealand (CORANZ) have spent weeks working through the bill, looking into the implications on our right to fish, access to the foreshore and the changes applicable to the Resource Management Act. They have come to the conclusion the bill is so poorly written it should be withdrawn.

This is a significant statement from a council consisting of groups and knowledgeable individuals who have fought to protect the public's interest in the outdoors for many years.

 

Late submissions accepted
option4 has been granted an extension to the submission deadline. The public are being encouraged to submit even though the official deadline was 12 July. It is important to express your views even if it is in the form a one-page letter. Submissions to the committee can be posted to: Foreshore and Seabed Submissions, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, PO Box 55, Wellington.

NZRFC Conference
The NZ Recreational Fishing Council held its AGM and conference in Whangarei over the first weekend in July. It was heartening to see such enthusiasm from those who represent fishers nationally. Many have been toiling away on our behalf for more than 20 years. Ross Gildon stepped down as president of the council after a meritorious effort to protect rights and access to our precious marine environment.

Long serving councillor and MTA representative, Keith Ingram was voted in as president for the upcoming year. Geoff Rowling and Jeff Romeril are now vice presidents. Bill Ross, Richard Baker and Don Glass were elected unopposed to the council and will no doubt continue the sterling work these individuals have done on behalf of those who fish for food or fun.

 

Party policies
David Benson-Pope addressed the conference on the first day and it was a great opportunity to meet the new Minister of Fisheries. National's Phil Heatley delivered a clear message on behalf of his party and also expressed his keen interest as a fisherman.

Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons didn't make it to Whangarei. Unfortunately she was busy elsewhere, so Scott Macindoe delivered a speech on her behalf. We were looking forward to meeting her as she has actively supported fisheries management decisions that benefit the public, namely kingfish and kahawai. Muriel Newman spoke on behalf of ACT. Winston Peters spoke about NZ First's policy on kahawai. He made it clear that they considered the Ministry of Fisheries were "playing favourites" when considering the allocation of kahawai and did not want kahawai stocks put at risk.

To their credit Larry Baldock of United Future and Paul Check of Outdoor Recreation NZ stayed for the entire conference. Being one of the committee due to hear the Foreshore submissions Larry bore the brunt of many questions during and after the Foreshore and Seabed session. Paul gave a no nonsense speech on environmental and marine protection issues. It is heartening to see such understanding of an integrated approach to marine protection from a political party.

Alan Riwaka from TOKM contributed constructively as did industry representatives Peter Stevens and Andrew Bond. DoC representatives from Whangarei and the Marine Conservation Unit based in Wellington felt the heat on several occasions and we were particularly interested in the information provided by Ministry of Fisheries staff.

 

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