This article was originally
published in the New Zealand Fishing News January 2006 edition.
is how the Ministry of Fisheries has described the Hokianga
Accord, a forum of non-commercial fishing representatives
from Ngapuhi, Ngati Wai, Ngati Whatua, the New Zealand Big
Game Fishing Council, the New Zealand Recreational Fishing
Council and option4.
The Hokianga Accord
met again in November and certainly made encouraging progress,
Steve Radich covered the hui in last month's NZ Fishing
News, and page 22 of December's edition is worth reading.
The Hokianga Accord
was originally intended to be one of eleven regional customary
iwi forums around the country but the Accord has determined
it wants to be inclusive of all non-commercial fishing interests,
both Maori customary and recreational. This certainly makes
sense considering the majority of fishing by Maori is classified
chairman Sonny Tau said it all when he made the statement,
" 99.99% time Maori go fishing we are categorised as
recreational fishers when we go fishing to feed our whanau.
The only time we are customarily fishing is when we have
One of the highlights
of the latest hui was the understanding and acceptance of
the fact that Maori did not want to "claim" all the fish and
pakeha were not out to stop Maori claiming their customary
fishing rights. Customary rights are clearly established in
law as is everyone in New Zealand's right to fish in the sea,
regardless of race.
Those at the hui heard how these fishing rights
are under increasing threat from overfishing, mismanagement by the
Ministry (MFish) and the failure of the Minister to address unfair
allocation processes. Proportional allocation of fisheries resources,
where all sectors get an equal increase or (more likely) decrease
in their allowance, is being promoted by MFish as being their preferred
way of distributing the amount of fish that can be caught. The consensus
was that this new policy has to be resoundingly rejected and consideration
given to improving management so we can achieve the Hokianga Accord's
goal of "more fish in the water".
The Minister's most recent
decisions for important shared fisheries such as kahawai, snapper,
flounder and grey mullet are examples of the unbalanced nature of
fisheries allocation in New Zealand. Catches for both kahawai and
snapper have been reduced proportionally with no acknowledgement
given to recreational fishers who have conserved in these fisheries
and excessive commercial fishing which has created the need for
a cut in catches.
The commercial quota for
flounder and mullet in area one, from Taranaki around to East Cape,
has never been caught in 19 years! Despite this and the overwhelming
concerns expressed by non-commercial fishers in their submissions
to the Ministry, the Minister decided he would rather leave the
quotas as they are than risk facing compensation claims from commercial
of fisheries is not a mechanism included in the Fisheries Act 1996
so therefore has no legal foundation. Section 21 of the Act provides
for our interests,
(1) In setting or varying
any total allowable commercial catch for any quota management stock,
the Minister shall have regard to the total allowable catch for
that stock and shall allow for -
(a) The following non-commercial
fishing interests in that stock, namely-
(i) Maori customary
non-commercial fishing interests; and
There is no two ways about
it, the law requires the Minister to provide for people's non-commercial
fishing interests before he considers the commercial catch. option4
do not believe these latest decisions are fair or just.
When the Ministry promoted
proportionalism in the Soundings document five years ago, a record
60,000 plus people said no. They recognised this management regime
as being an unjust way of allocating fisheries. The truth was revealed
by a MFish representative, when asked what the objective of the
Soundings process was Jenni McMurran said that it was
to constrain recreational catch and avoid compensation issues for
the Crown. A stunning but truthful revelation of why Ministry were,
and still are, promoting proportionalism.
Now it seems the Ministry
is intent on changing the law to legitimise proportionalism. Recent
conversations with MFish staff reveal the engagement of Dr Robin
Connor to scope the Intersectorial Allocation Policy project. Discussions
in the New Year should reveal more.
Proportionalism is a dangerous
experiment that could see the people of this country lose their
fishing rights as described in section 21. The public would end
up with the leftovers of a commercial fishery.
All fair-minded New Zealanders
should feel concerned about this new proposal to change the Fisheries
Act. Under the proposed proportional system the Ministry of Fisheries
would remove themselves from allocation decisions and leave commercial
and non-commercial fishers to develop Fisheries Plans collaboratively.
The Ministry and Minister would then be able to avoid their responsibility
to the people of this country including tangata whenua.
The Hokianga Accord clearly
understands proportional allocation does not satisfy non-commercial
aspirations for fisheries and is working to achieve a more reasonable
regime to manage fisheries so there will be "more fish in the water"
for future generations.
If you have never been
to a hui, now is a great time to consider it. The Accord welcomes
your input and participation. The next hui is scheduled for March
2006, please call 09 8186205 or 0274 506065 for more information.
or visit the web
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