Free right to fish
Soundings and Shared Fisheries sought to “better define” the recreational fishing right. Given the Supreme Court’s description of the recreational right it is fortunate both proposals were tossed aside.
In 2009 the Court found that while non-commercial fishers do not have a priority right across all species the Minister may decide that, on balance, the benefit to the nation may be greater for a fishery to be managed for the benefit of non-commercial fishers. Marlin is one example.
Moreover, stocks can be managed above the legal sustainable limit to improve fish abundance, as evidenced by the recent Ministerial kahawai decision.
Identifying and resolving issues
Undoubtedly the latest proposals need to be widely discussed, but after reviewing the available documentation it is clear that the foremost priority ought to be a proper analysis and prioritisation of the issues facing recreational interests. Appropriate solutions can only be designed after the problems are identified.
Examining how other non-commercial interest groups operate would also be helpful.
There are various environmental groups advocating fisheries issues, and the public is free to support one or more organisations that best represent their views.
It is obvious that those Non Government Organisations with firm principles to guide the activities of dedicated people achieve the best outcomes.
The government, industry and environmentalists know that none of those groups have outright mandate to speak on the public’s behalf.
Public interest is ultimately represented by Parliament, whose members are elected by the people.
And it remains the Crown’s responsibility to provide for every New Zealander's well-being, by sustainably managing fisheries.