option4 Update #10 October 2001
Dear option4 subscribers,
Ministerial Consultative Group Update
The Ministerial Consultative Group has had its 3rd and final meeting. The Soundings process and MCG group is now finished. The minister will report back to cabinet and recommend NO CHANGES be made at the present time and in doing so will formally close the process. A new group will be formed to continue the debate over the next couple of months. option4 and NZBGFC agreed to this approach.
At that meeting option4 expressed the opinion that the Minister has a responsibility to ensure the recreational/sustenance fishing right is not diminished. As the recreational/sustenance catch varies the Minister should allow for these changes in determining the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) and the recreational/sustenance fishery bag limits.
Under Section 21 (a) of the 1996 Fisheries Act the Minister shall allow for recreational fishing. We understand the phrase shall allow is critical in defining the Ministers responsibility. Shall in the Fisheries Act has the same meaning as must, and allow implies a requirement to fulfil the recreational/sustenance right in full. By comparison, to make an allowance implies less than full provision for the right.
We wish to see our common law right recognised, protected and strengthened, to ensure we have a priority right over the commercial sector. In this regard we are unsure whether the suggestion of specifying specific conditions to be met is the most appropriate mechanism to protect our right.
We have sought legal advice and participated in a legal summit meeting. It would appear that the use of specific criteria might undermine the common law right. We understand the strength of the right currently lies in its general nature, and specifying conditions under which it will operate is likely to weaken that right.
option4 appreciates the genuine intent of the Minister of Fisheries, Pete Hodgson, to address the recreational rights issue.
option4 remains strongly committed to further consultation and participating in helping to better define the rights of the fishing public.
In Soundings the Ministry asked you how you wanted your fisheries managed. You overwhelmingly achieved consensus with the other public fishers who responded to the invitation to have your say. It is the Ministry and the fishing Industry who are not joining in with our consensus.
Thank you to the following clubs Te Puke Fish & Game, Counties Sport Fishing Club, Outboard Boating Club (Auckland) and Papakura RSA fishing section. Option4 volunteers have enjoyed evenings with these clubs really worthwhile for us to spend this time with the grass roots. Your generous financial and moral support makes this initiative worthwhile and sustainable. Thank you.
Next month Summary of MCG process, a wrap up type paper of the Soundings process and some indications of option4s next moves.