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option4 Update #20 Oct 2002

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Public Consultation
October 2002
 



Dear [ subscriber ]


As we finalise this Update for online release - 2/10/02 - there is still no sign of any form of consultation occurring, never mind the receipt of background papers. Why the delay?


The "Briefing for Incoming Ministers from the Ministry of Fisheries - August 2002" (available at http://www.fish.govt.nz/information/briefing_02/current.html) states "Cabinet has directed MFish to prepare a public discussion document by February 2003 with a recommended option to improve the management of recreational fisheries" and then goes on to state "MFish has commissioned a series of background papers, which we intend to make publicly available in August. The papers will discuss issues including

* The nature of the current recreational right,
* Constraints on recreational fishing due to environmental obligations,
* The relevance of the fisheries settlement with Maori.

Discussion of these issues with the sector will be contentious, and may heighten awareness and result in publicity".

In January the Ministry revised their initial Consultation Plan (1st tabled in December 2001) http://www.option4.co.nz/Your_Rights/consplan2.htm undertaking to have these papers circulated in time for the public sector representatives to have input before August. At this point the process is scheduled to go into Cabinet Paper preparation phase - a phase where we have no opportunity for input.

In May we wrote (http://www.option4.co.nz/Your_Rights/reflmrf502.htm) expressing concern about the delays in the consultation.


The Minister replied - 6/6/2002 - (http://www.option4.co.nz/Your_Rights/reflmrf602.htm) stating "With regard to the Action Plan developed by the Ministry of Fisheries earlier this year, officials inform me that the occasional papers are close to being finalised and will be externally reviewed prior to being circulated to interested parties within the next few weeks. I am hopeful that those papers will provide a useful background context from which to discuss the options for moving forward."

We are fed up with this ongoing lack of performance on the part of the Ministry. It is now 8 months of complete inertia without the courtesy of an explanation as to why these delays are occurring. Talk of an election should not stop us, the public, having access to these Ministry papers/opinions. What we will inevitably now receive is a very short time frame to work within. Remember, these papers are to be the basis of the "single option for reform" that Cabinet have decided needs to be presented for a very brief public consultation next year - scheduled for March, April, May. This is not good enough. The way option4 sees it is that there will be little or no opportunity for you, the public, to have input into these papers. This is clearly, yet another example of poor process. Taken in combination with the rest of the process to date, things begin to look pretty grim.


option4 Submission to the IPP 2002
The Ministries Final Advice Paper (FAP) to the Minister is due to be released any day. This will be accompanied by the Decision Paper outlining the Ministers decisions on the various fishery management issues at stake in this years sustainability round. If you missed last months Update, you can read the details of the concerns option4 has with regards a number of inshore fishery decisions pending on the Fisheries Management pages.


Ministry paper on "Allocation of TAC between Stakeholders"
This paper was contained in the 2001 Final Advice Paper (FAP) from the Ministry to the Minister on the fisheries management proposals dealt with last year. option4 and others were unaware of this paper until we read references made to the "general criteria" throughout the IPP for 2002. When we asked for clarification we were directed back a year to the 2001 FAP where we found it under the section headed "Statutory Considerations and Consultation".

Why did we miss picking it up then?

Firstly, we did not make submission to the "Review of Sustainability Measures" process last year.

Secondly, and very importantly, at the time we were entirely focused on contributing to the Ministerial Consultative Group (MCG) process, which the Minister had initiated in March 2001. In fact the paper was released right in the middle of the MCG.

You will recall that the purpose of the MCG was for public sector representatives (NZRFC, NZBGFC and option4) to offer the Minister a "sounding board" on Ministry policy proposals. In "good faith", we stepped forward and received the Ministry Policy Proposals to which we gave our very best efforts. There was, however, no reference whatsoever to this very important policy paper that the Ministry was preparing at that time and in fact was released to the Minister in the Ministries Final Advice Paper in September 2001. We feel aggrieved that there was no reference made to this paper during the MCG. We feel slightly foolish that we did not become aware of it until some 9 months later. However, the experience has certainly improved our understanding of how this Ministry operates.

Our next task is to research the background to this paper and offer some analysis of its content. In the meantime, have a read at http://www.option4.co.nz/Your_Rights/tacallo801.htm It makes very interesting reading, if a little on the dry side.

Thank you to those of you who have sent your cheques - you make all the difference.

Regards from the team at option4

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