In 2004 the then Minister, David Benson-Pope, introduced kahawai into the quota management system.
Over the next two years thousands of people nationwide submitted that targeting of kahawai by purse seiners ought to be reduced, to enable a stock rebuild.
Those pleas were ignored and the Kahawai Legal Challenge was initiated in 2005, to clarify how the Minister ought to be making decisions for all important fisheries not just kahawai.
After traversing the High Court and Court of Appeal the Supreme Court decision was released in May 2009. The recent management review of kahawai was one outcome of those proceedings, but faint regard has been given to many of the Courts’ determinations.
During the proceedings the Crown acknowledged there were many elements that contributed to ‘allowing for’ recreational interests in a fish stock. It was more than just the Minister setting aside a particular tonnage of fish.
A good way to measure whether recreational interests are being met in a fishery is to monitor both catch rates and the size of caught fish. Recent enquiries prove the Ministry has no meaningful data to describe either of these aspects.
Without this information it is easy to maintain the priority given to commercial interests in the kahawai fishery. It also means there is no data to compel fisheries managers to take positive action on behalf of the public.
After years of litigation and countless taxpayer dollars spent on boat ramp surveys there is no justifiable excuse for this level of incompetence and mediocrity from our public servants.