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option4 Update #51 NZFN Feb 2005


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www.option4.co.nz – Why, How and Now

NZ Fishing News
Feb 2005

This article was originally published in the New Zealand Fishing News March 2005 edition.

 

Five years ago the option4 lobby group formed in response to a controversial discussion document on saltwater recreational fishing titled " Soundings ". Now in 2005, the option4 taskforce is still striving to redefine the public's right to fish for food and determine what our non-commercial interests are in the marine environment. Over this time the affiliation of concerned New Zealand citizens and fishing people has grown considerably.

 

What was the Soundings document?

The "Soundings" discussion document was the work of the Rights Working Group (RWG) consisting of Ministry of Fisheries staff and members of the NZ Recreational Fishing Council (NZRFC). The Rights Working Group asked for submissions on the future management and rights of recreational fishers.  
" Soundings " included three options for the public to consider in regards to our future fishing rights. They were: -

  1. Discretionary share (status quo, the current system)
  2. Proportional share (a fixed share of the available fishery)
  3. Recreational management (proportional share and management control).

option4 believes that the RWG, in the " Soundings" document, adopted a set of preconceived and indefensible assumptions about the relationship New Zealanders have with the sea surrounding our land, while omitting reference to many important issues surrounding the pre-existing rights of New Zealanders to fish and harvest the sea.

option4 was determined to ensure all possible options for the future management of recreational fishing were considered on their merits and debated as widely as possible.

 

option4 Objective

To carry the four principles of option4 all the way through the rights redefinition process and to have those principles enshrined in legislation.

 

option4 Principles

  1. A priority right over commercial fishers for free access to a reasonable daily bag limit to be written into legislation.
  2. The ability to exclude commercial methods that deplete recreationally important areas.
  3. The ability to devise plans to ensure future generations enjoy the same or better quality of rights while preventing fish conserved for recreational use being given to the commercial sector.
  4. No licensing of recreational fishers.

 

Consensus

option4 compiled a submission, sought input and support through widespread debate, the website, articles and interviews in the media.

option4 achieved a staggering level of consensus on public harvesting rights in the marine environment. Of the 62,117 submissions made during the " Soundings" process 61,178 (98.5%) supported the objective and four principles of option4 contained in the submission. This was an unprecedented response to a fisheries management proposal.

Fisheries Management

In addition to the original " Soundings" submission, we have generated many submissions on specific fisheries management issues. Each of these submissions has sought to achieve consensus and a maximum of discussion/debate in the typically short time frames allowed for by the Ministry of Fisheries. We will continue to involve the public in the process of responding to issues affecting non-commercial fishers in New Zealand.

Submissions from option4 and others can be found online at Fisheries Management along with a unique record of the process that arrived at the final decisions. It is this functionality and value that option4 has invested so heavily in. option4 has made submissions on proposals for many   species including snapper, paua, tarakihi, kingfish, kahawai and more recently rig. Our current focus is on the kahawai decision from the Minister of Fisheries.

 

Marine Protection

option4 has become involved in the marine protection debate to try and provide a balance of information. Some specific marine reserve proposals or applications have been "dissected and rebutted" here.

We have assembled as complete a record as possible and invited people, by way of Alerts, to consider making individual submissions to the proposals. Volkner Rocks, Tiritiri Matangi, Auckland's West Coast, Fiordland and Great Barrier Island were online Alerts 1 to 5.

Several thousand individual submissions later sees a remarkable majority thinking as one in their opposition to the piecemeal ad hoc approach to marine protection being promoted by the Department of Conservation. If ever there was a time to explore the nature and extent of Maori customary management, now is the hour. DoC's consultation style is not how we wish to interact with you. We are in a strong position to learn from others mistakes.

 

Focus and functionalities

option4's focus has been on the issues and how best to get those issues out to as many people as possible. We have developed the following functions to achieve that objective.

Internet

We have invested heavily in several aspects of internet.

  • Record of process. Critical to any engagement is a willingness to report and record. There are in excess of 5000 pages of record uploaded to the site with at least 1000 more pages to be uploaded over the next 12 months.
  • Communication. There have been so many issues to deal with, so many people to consult, so little time and no money to achieve traditional face-to-face type deliberations. The all important consensus positions achieved have only been possible thanks to extensive use of email as a communication medium.
  • Database. The ability to communicate regularly with our growing database and provide opportunities for you to respond has proved to be a goldmine. The integrity of the option4 database has never been compromised or sold to any other entity.
  • Online submissions. Each Alert has been a step forward from the last. Essentially these consist of providing good, comprehensive information to you online and then offering an online submission making-tool that allows you to have your say. Alert # 6 on kahawai saw more than 2000 people take advantage of this "functionality" – unprecedented.

Outreach.

A major achievement has been the ability to provide you with regular Updates (52 to date) through the option4 website and other media on matters relating to accessing our marine environment.

We tend to discuss the "matters of the moment" in an uncompromising and blunt manner. We are very frank and do not seek to be diplomatic. Where the Ministry of Fisheries and Department of Conservation have failed, option4 have succeeded in providing you with the detail required to make an informed choice.

Fisheries management process attendance

With funding so scarce, attendance at these meetings is carefully rationed. We are there at pelagic, snapper and some research planning work. The lack of non-commercial attendance at other meetings is of real concern.

Meetings with Minister and MFish

2001 – After " Soundings"   the Minister, Pete Hodgson, established a Ministerial Consultative Group. option4 representatives were present at all six meetings.

2002 - Election year, no meetings.

2003 - The Reference Group worked tirelessly throughout the year. Again, option4 attended all meetings.

2004 - New Minister. No meetings with option4.

Funding

Donations from the public have been the backbone to date. These donations fluctuate with issues – no issues equals little money – however there has never been a shortage of issues to deal with.

Backing up is a handful of individuals who will not allow the lack of money to be an excuse to not deliver on key roles and issues. They have indicated ongoing support.

The Future
option4 make it easy for you to stay informed and participate in fishery management issues. Simply register online at and you will receive regular monthly Updates. Don't leave it to others because your views and participation is important. Get online, register, make a donation and make a difference.

 

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