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option4 Update #40 March 2004

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Dear [ subscriber ]

 

Kahawai -- Our Fish – Our People

Kahawai Alert Coming soon

On April 5 th we will be sending you Alert # 6, the most important Alert yet. Alert #6 offers you the opportunity to either support the option4 submission or make your own submission to the introduction of kahawai into the Quota Management System.

Standby for your chance to make a difference. Mark April 5 th in your calendar.

Pass it on

Right now is the time to ensure your friends receive the same opportunity – please take two minutes now and subscribe your friend to receive the Alert.

Go here - http://option4.co.nz/promote.php

Kahawai

This Update (#40) offers you our perspective on the state of the kahawai fisheries, the key issues and an outline of what the Ministry of Fisheries is proposing. Please pass this on to as many people as you can and ask them to help.

Ever been burgled? If you have, you know how non-commercial fishers feel about the latest proposal to give massive kahawai quotas to the fishing industry. And all because of the activities of a handful of commercial fishing boats which barely make a profit even though they catch most of the kahawai landed in New Zealand.

 

That’s right. Even though we have been telling the Ministry of Fisheries for over a decade that the kahawai fishery is in serious decline and there are not enough fish available for non commercial fishers, the Ministry has clearly decided to ignore the rights of a million non-commercial fishers in favour of five purse-seine vessels.

Research shows that it takes 20 times longer to catch a kahawai in some areas than it did prior to the development of the purse-seine fishery. Serious concerns of the health of the kahawai fishery have been raised by members of the Ministry’s own staff. Nevertheless, the Ministry ignores the views of some of its own people (and non commercial fishers in general) by insisting there is no scarcity of kahawai. They then compound that fallacy by recommending that purse seine vessels should therefore be given quota based upon their past catches.

By doing this, the Ministry completely ignores the principle of cause and effect. It simply can not, or will not, see that the purse seiner’s huge catches are the major reason for the dreadful state of the kahawai fishery – a fishery which many recreational and Maori fishers have depended on for a feed over the years.

Although records are patchy, we know the purse seine catch has gone from nothing in 1975 to peak at 8300 tonnes in 1988. They have taken over 80,000 tonnes since 1982. It is inconceivable that such massive extractions inflicted over so many years would have had no effect on recreational and customary fishers.

To make it worse the Ministry now wants to give a full allocation to commercial interests based on their catch history. But it wants to allocate to non-commercial fishers based on the recreational catch figures from 1994 onwards - figures which have been eroded by the activities of the very same purse-seine vessels the Ministry favours so much. Just imagine what recreational catch rates would be now if the fishery had not been ravaged by the purse seiners.

So what is it about the purse seiners that makes the Ministry so hell bent on eroding the rights of the public to maintain the purse seine fishery? The Ministry’s own paper shows that our prized kahawai is only worth an average of 44c per kilogram at the wharf to commercial fishermen. Most is exported for fishmeal, crayfish bait and cat food.

We can only assume this whole process is being driven by zealots within the Ministry who would like to see every fish ‘owned’ by someone so that they can demand research funds, take levies from and generally make money through privatising the public’s fish. All this while the humble kahawai is worth 11 to 16 times more to a non-commercial fisher (this figure does not include the social or cultural value recreational and customary fishers place on the fish, or its value as a once easily caught, nutritional food source).

What used to be a bycatch for most fishers became the fish we took home if nothing else was biting. Now the Ministry’s own research shows in some areas 90% of boats return with nothing on board. Shore-based fishers have suffered even worse.

What can we do?

The imminent allocation of kahawai quotas to the commercial sector is a political decision that will determine whether the kahawai fishery can be given a chance to recover its former glory or will continue to be devastated to be used as fishmeal, cat food and to make sure Australians have crayfish bait to stick in their pots.

option4 is working closely with other non-commercial representative organisations on a submission to prevent the proposed theft of the public’s kahawai fishery from succeeding.

On April 5 th we will be sending out Alert #6. The Alert will include the option4 submission, an opportunity to endorse this or make your own submission. Best of all we will be offering you the chance to make your views known to the politicians of your choice. Don’t let them get away with it. This is the last chance for the kahawai fishery!

Major issues

Recreational fishing organisations will be arguing that industrial fishing using aerial spotter planes and purse seine vessels, capable of exterminating whole schools in a single set, has caused the decline in the kahawai. The 15-year expansion of this fishery was unconstrained and at the expense of, prior non-commercial fishing claims. Over the years the public has reiterated the unfairness of the ‘seek and destroy’ bulk purse-seine method being used on such a vulnerable inshore species such as trevally and kahawai. For too long the public have been ignored. Clearly, this is unacceptable.

Kahawai taken by all other commercial fishing methods is largely an unavoidable bycatch and is more than sufficient to supply the local market. People will be able to continue to enjoy the smoked fish they buy from their local shop under our proposal.

option4 will lobby strongly to reclaim the rights the public had in the kahawai fishery prior to the introduction of purse seining. option4 has no sympathy for the purse seine fleet that has been the cause of the decimation of the kahawai fishery. These people knew when they started how the public felt about purse seine fishing so close inshore. They have taken forty million fish over the years and while doing so have caused a massive disruption to the non-commercial fisheries. It is only fair that those that cause the damage take the cuts needed for the rebuild. It is long past time the purse seine target fishery was gone! We cannot win this battle without your support. Make sure you either send a letter to the Minister of Fisheries or make a submission online to make your voice heard.

Pass it on

Numbers are everything. We can win this if we all do our little bit. ACT NOW.

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Regards from

the team at option4

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