– Who's saying what?
Kahawai is one of the most,
if not THE most important recreational species we have in our waters.
Recently the Ministry of
Fisheries announced the 'rules' for its inclusion in the Quota Management
System and not done recreational and subsistence fishers any favours.
The following is a summary
in brief of the various positions those involved have taken.
Scientists and fisheries
With 18 years of Quota
Management System under their belts one would expect there would
be plenty of good science available and reliable information upon
which to base sound fisheries management decisions for kahawai.
After all, it is the second most important non commercial fish species
and the last big fishery to be introduced to the QMS. Sadly, the
opposite prevails – scarce information of a very uncertain
and Fisheries Management managers
Complete failure to differentiate
kahawai for management purposes. No management plan suggested to
rebuild this obviously decimated species. Lets just jam it in to
the QMS and (mis)manage it like all the other commercial fisheries
– BMSY or bust – whatever comes first. Bizarre!
Whilst the Ministry recommendations
mean that most commercial fishers will be disadvantaged with their
final Quota allocation (based on 1991/92 catch history) they are
strangely silent on this most salient point. The purse seiners,
on the other hand, have floated outrageous claims of job losses,
fleet feasibility and general meltdown if their illegitimate target
fishing for kahawai is in any way discounted. Those who stole the
fish stand to be the biggest beneficiaries of the quota allocation.
Those who sold our precious kahawai for next to nothing for cray
bait etc will be able to carry on doing exactly that.
Those who stand to be disadvantaged
most have not , by and large, submitted on the management of this
most important traditional species. It is Maori who have such a
rich history of utilising kahawai to manaaki manuhiri – www.option4.co.nz/manaaki.htm
It is Maori who will lose out most as the Ministry attempts
to give effect to their recommendation to reduce the non commercial
harvest of kahawai by 15%. The Ministry, in their infinite wisdom,
have "cooked the books" when recommending allowances for Customary
Maori. Having said that, what good is a Customary Fishing Permit
or simply the investment in a day out fishing for food if the missing
schools of kahawai have been fed to Australian crayfish?
Ever since the introduction
of purse seining we have been objecting. Over 2000 individuals,
clubs and representative organisations have made submission to the
setting of Total Allowable Catch and allocation of Total Allowable
Commercial Catch (quota) – we have been incredibly consistent
throughout our submissions. Sadly, this huge input has been dismissed
as anecdotal and is not adequately reflected in the final recommendation
from Ministry to their Minister.
The Minister of Fisheries
His press release 10/8/04
states – " Fisheries Minister
David Benson-Pope has announced an overall 15 per cent reduction
in the amount of kahawai that can be caught to safeguard the popular
fish species but has given recreational fishers the lion's-share
of the catch" No way – he has not "given" us anything
other than the leftovers of yet another commercially demolished
inshore shared fishery. Instead he has given quota to purse seiners
- much more than they have managed to catch of recent years - and
the go ahead to continue to fish down this vital species. He has
not given any direction as to how kahawai will be rebuilt. In fact
he goes on to state (on National Radio 11/8/04) "As part
of this Government, I'm also very keen on supporting the
industry and jobs, both on boats and in processing" . At least
we know where we stand.
Larry Baldock and his colleagues
of United Future/Outdoor Recreation NZ have invested big time in
understanding the issues. Thank you, Larry. As a result he and his
Party introduced a Supplementary Order Paper to Parliament in August
aiming to delay the introduction of kahawai to the QMS for 12 months
in order to allow for better information and more informed debate
to occur. National's Phil Heatley clearly supported the SOP –
well done. However the SOP was defeated by ACT voting with Labour.
Jeanette Fitzsimons and the Greens also voted with Labour, however,
only after negotiating vigorously with the Minister to achieve a
written commitment from him to review the decision and science next
year. New Zealand First's Winston Peters let his supporters down
badly, by firstly using his question time opportunities in Parliament
to fire cheap shots at other political parties, thus forgoing his
opportunity to focus debate on the issues, and secondly, by abstaining
on the SOP vote. Poor form!
After the debate in Parliament
Larry Baldock said, " sometimes doing the right thing is much
simpler than playing politics. I am disappointed by the lack of
integrity shown by other parties but the battle doesn't end at this
point". The debate can be read online at http://option4.co.nz/Fisheries_Mgmt/kahawai.htm
We consider the kahawai fishery
to be a public resource, which the Ministry of Fisheries have knowingly
allowed to be decimated by condoning the development of an industrial-scale
purse seine fishery in the midst of the most accessible and second
most important non-commercial fishery. It is unarguable that the
catch history developed by the purse seiners has been gained at
the direct expense of all non-commercial users by reducing the availability
and size of fish able to be caught.
Under the current decision,
allowable commercial catch of kahawai will increase beyond what
they have been able to catch in recent years. At the same time recreational
fishers will be expected to cut their already poor catches by 15%.
This is unfair, unjust and completely unacceptable.
If there is any genuine claim
against the Ministry for reallocating catching rights it is the
claim that has been brought by recreational fishers – that
the purse seiners have stolen our fish. For the Minister to suggest
we need to reduce our take by 15% so the rape and pillage can continue
is outrageous. Does he expect people to take a bag limit reduction
down to 3 or 4 kahawai just so the commercial sector can continue
to supply crayfish bait to overseas markets? We don't think so.
The fish stolen from the
public must be returned. How can this be achieved?
- Issue sufficient quota to cover genuine by-catch;
- Discount the purse seine catch history because it has been developed
at the expense of other users;
- Consider, if necessary, compensating the purse seine fishers
for the unforgivable Ministry blunder of allowing the purse seine
fishery to be developed in the first place.
- If necessary, take legal action to challenge the Ministry advice
given that led to the decision.
To be successful,
your support is essential!
The Minister's current decision
is absolutely unacceptable. The decision leaves us no alternative
but to use all of our available resources to have the kahawai decision
overturned. Together with the NZRFC and NZBGFC, we have met with
legal counsel to advise us on legal action options. A decision will
have been made by the time you read this.
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