Rights Not for Sale
the option4 team
This article was
originally published in the New Zealand Fishing News July 2007 edition.
Ministry of Fisheries issued the Shared Fisheries discussion
document in October 2006.
included proposals for managing shared fisheries such as snapper,
blue cod, kahawai, kingfish, shellfish and crayfish.
became obvious early on was the lack of explanation of what
our current right to fish isand any acknowledgement
that the Kahawai
Legal Challenge, which sought to clarify the nature of recreational
(non-commercial) fishing rights, was underway.
Just how far the government
can push its Shared Fisheries
proposals will depend on New Zealanders knowing what their
non-commercial right to fish is, and how important that right is
is for all New Zealanders to protect our non-commercial right to
fish - inherited from common law - and not be pushed aside by the
government, guided by a Ministry of Fisheries whose time appears
to be running out.
have been sustenance fishing in New Zealand for centuries,
long before the settlers arrived. It is no accident that Maori
refer to the sea as their “food basket”.
fact that many people these days view fishing as a release
from their busy lives arguably adds to the fundamental status
of all New Zealander's common law right to fish.
law rights stem from the Magna Carta of 1215 and belong to
every New Zealander irrespective of economic status.
is recognised, and must be “allowed for” as per the current Fisheries
This historical right
to fish was confirmed by the High Court in the judicial
review proceedings of the Minister's management decisions for
kahawai. The court's decision was released on March 21st 2007.
Harrison described every New Zealander's non-commercial right to
fish as a “well settled common law right, subject only to express
statutory limitation to fish and provide for his or her needs where
that right has particular value in a country where easy proximity
to the sea in a temperate climate contributes to the popularity
of fishing as a recreational pastime”.
By contrast, MFish describe
the right to fish in paragraph 4.1 of Shared Fisheries
“The basic right to
Many New Zealanders
feel that the freedom to cast a line to catch
a fish is a cultural tradition that should
be maintained . They are concerned that changes
to the management of shared fisheries might mean restrictions
or limitations were placed on this tradition. This value
is part of our national identity and should be protected.”
This is weasel speak.
a public right that is part of the New Zealand way of life. Why
is MFish so afraid to say how it is? When the law says the Minister
shall allow for non-commercial fishing interests it means he must!
the Minister sets the total allowable commercial catch for a fish
stock he must allow for both customary and recreational fishing
interests by applying the mandatory consideration of enabling people
to provide for their social, economic and cultural wellbeing.
terms, there is an obligation on the Minister to provide for that
wellbeing by ensuring that there are enough fish in the water for
people to catch.
Colmar Brunton poll commissioned by the fishing industry found that
25 percent of those surveyed had never fished recreationally. Simple
math means that 75 percent of New Zealanders are competing with
the fishing industry for an ever-diminishing supply of fish!
When we factor in
population increases and the insatiable overseas demand for our
fisheries exports it is no wonder amateur fishing representatives
spent considerable effort, over a four month period, responding
to the government's plan to reduce non-commercial catch.
a silver lining however.
of mismanagement of our inshore fisheries, amateur and Maori fishing
interests are now working together to ensure ongoing sustainable
management of our precious fisheries and the protection of our marine
Accord (the mid-north regional iwi fisheries forum) is a prime example
of the increasing awareness and mutual respect for traditional and
customary values in fisheries management and how this adds value
to all New Zealander's right to fish.
Fisheries has been discussed at a number of the forum's hui
and no doubt it will be discussed again at the ninth hui scheduled
for August 17th and 18th 2007.
Ngapuhi, Ngati Whatua and other tangata whenua are doing includes
gathering information on fishing activities and the impacts it has
on fisheries and environment. option4 and the New Zealand Big Game
Fishing Council recognise the potential that exists for Maori and
non-Maori to work together for the benefit of all New Zealanders
and are fully supportive of the Hokianga Accord.
the laissez-faire, hands-off approach taken by MFish has not delivered
on the promises made in 1986, at the introduction of the quota management
system. Protracted debates continue about how many fish amateur,
customary and commercial fishers are catching and whether each sector
is able to access their fair share of inshore fisheries of social
and cultural importance.
that most commercially caught kahawai are hunted by spotter planes,
scooped up by purse seine vessels and exported for petfood and Australian
crayfish bait is evidence that commercial considerations, particularly
big corporate companies, have held sway in fisheries management.
As the High
Court ruled, the use of fisheries to enable people to provide for
their wellbeing is a mandatory requirement of the law. That wellbeing
includes the state of people's health or physical welfare and can
be provided for by catching kahawai or purchasing it from retail
then is served if legislation changes limit the catch of those New
Zealanders who can least afford to buy popular fish at over $30
due to decide mid-year on reforms and to implement changes to change
the Fisheries Act by year's end. Why? Current legislation already
contains the management tools and mechanisms to rebuild and manage
our fisheries sustainably.
lies in the willingness of fisheries managers and others to recognise
that fundamental values associated with common law rights, such
as the right to fish, are not up for grabs, negotiation or sale.
Not now, not ever and that's the major reason why option4, NZBGFC
and the Hokianga Accord exists!
|If you value the work option4 is doing please
use the secure online facility available
here and invest in your fishing future.
to Updates Index page here >> >>