The Minister of Fisheries
The purpose of this letter is to advise you that there is complete
consensus between NZRFC, NZBGFC and option4.co.nz on the following
key recreational fisheries management principles. This consensus
has existed for some time and is now formalised in this document.
- Principles developed during the Soundings process.
- Preference to non-commercial fishing as guaranteed by the cornerstone
statement in the 1989 Recreational Fishing Policy.
- Need for legislative reform to implement the principles and
preference statement and to ensure the public sector is adequately
resourced to be an effective contributor to fisheries management.
- Rejection of the capped proportional share concept.
- The requirement for improved information.
These key points are discussed in more detail below.
1. Principles developed during the Soundings process
The principles are: -
- A priority right over commercial fishers for free access to
a reasonable daily bag-limit to be written into legislation.
- The ability to exclude commercial methods that deplete recreationally
- The ability to devise plans to ensure future generations enjoy
the same or better quality of rights while preventing fish conserved
for recreational use being given to the commercial sector.
- No licensing of recreational fishers.
These principles have been policy of the NZRFC for many years and
were reaffirmed at their AGM in July 2001. This endorsement took
place at the annual general meeting. Ministry of Fisheries staff
witnessed this process of arriving at consensus. NZBGFC have also
endorsed these principles, as have option4. We note to date that
only one of these principles has been adopted by Government with
your clear statement that there will be no licensing of recreational
statement in the 1989 Recreational Fishing Policy
The "cornerstone statement" in the 1989 Recreational Fishing
Policy, signed off by the senior Labour Party Minister, the Hon
Colin Moyle, states: -
"The cornerstone of the policy is presented in the first national
objective: to ensure recreational users have access to a reasonable
share of fishery resources. Government's position is clear, where
a species of fish is not sufficiently abundant to support both commercial
and noncommercial fishing, preference will be given to noncommercial
fishing. This position reflects Government's resolve to ensure all
New Zealanders can enjoy and benefit from our fisheries."
All three organisations are unanimous and consistent in their endorsement
of the 1989 Policy, and the Ministers forward in the form of his
formal letter of introduction and release and the cornerstone statement
contained in the 4th paragraph, now known as the "Moyle Promise".
This very important policy document is still very much alive. It
has never been repealed by any subsequent Government, or the Ministry.
It was however ignored by the National Government and the Ministry
during the 1990s.
To the recreational sector, the 1989 Policy is the equivalent of
the Treaty of Waitangi to Maori. For many years, neither recreational/sustenance
nor the Maori sectors were recognised by the Ministry. The recreational
sector will not rest until the statement confirming preference to
noncommercial fishing (as stated by the Minister in the 1989 Policy)
is recognised by Government.
3. Need for Legislative reform
All three organisations have agreed on the need for legislative
reform and for the defining of the public's right in the legislation.
We are open to further discussion on how this can be achieved but
before firming views and policies we have awaited the occasional
papers and legal documents that were promised in the paper "Recreational
Fishing Reform: Action Plan 2002-03" released by the Ministry
in January 2002. In that paper it was stated:
"Phase one: February - July 2002"
Occasional Papers and Seminars
The consultation processes to date have identified some issues of
concern to stakeholders and the Cabinet has outlined some constraints
and objectives of future policy development. In order to address
these issues and concerns MFish will commission papers on the issues
of most concern. Where demand exists, seminars can be held discussing
the papers with stakeholders. MFish can provide experts to speak
where this is beneficial. These meetings will consist of a presentation
followed by discussion and consideration of different viewpoints
on the issue at hand.
Suggested topics include:
- The Treaty of Waitangi and the Fisheries Settlement Act and
their implications for fisheries management
- International obligations, common law rights and related issues
- Property rights and their application to natural resource management
including the QMS and the management of commercial fisheries under
the Fisheries Act.
- Environmental objectives of government including the Fisheries
Act and the Marine Reserves Act
Given that there are stakeholders
around the country and participation can be expensive, seminars
will be held in the regions and only where a demand is demonstrated.
Seminars can be tailored to the concerns of different regions and
scheduled in consultation with stakeholders.
The objectives of this phase are to foster a broad understanding
of how options might meet the objectives and constraints that cabinet
has set for the development of options for reform. It will also
serve to make information available on the broader policy environment.
MFish encourages people to take advantage of experts and papers
that we provide and to this end MFish will publish the papers on
MFish will be happy to consider proposals for incorporation into
the policy development process from stakeholders at any time during
this phase (prior to the formal input in the consultation phase).
Options will need to address the objectives that government has
identified and to be achievable within the constraints that have
Given that it is now December we wonder where these papers and seminars
are. To our knowledge none have been issued nor any seminars held.
We ask, why have the Ministry not yet delivered these documents
and when will they? Is it now the intention of you as Minister and
your Ministry to just present the sector with a fait accompli for
consultation on the Governments preferred option?
4. Rejection of
the proportional share concept
The recreational sector has, and always will, totally and unanimously
reject a capped proportional share concept because of the Moyle
Promise referred to above. We accept that management of fisheries
will continue under the QMS but this needs to reflect the public
right of access and priority.
We reject capped proportionalism because the fish in the sea are
a public resource, and the public right to be able to expect to
catch a reasonable number of fish on a fishing trip must come before
commercial interests within the requirements of a sustainable fishery.
The surplus should be available to the commercial sector once they
have paid the Crown for the access right to generate revenue from
a public resource. We reject any agenda to cap the recreational
catch in order to preserve some " fixed/defined proportion"
of the TAC for commercial concerns. As the High Court stated in
the judgment on SNA 1 (CA82/97) "If over time a greater recreational
demand arises it would be strange if the Minister was precluded
by some proportional rule from giving some extra allowance to cover
it, subject always to his obligation carefully to weigh all the
competing demands on the TAC before deciding how much should be
allocated to each interest group."
5. Improved Information
It is agreed that a fundamental element of sustainable fisheries
management is to ensure that management decisions are based on accurate
estimates of all sector's catches. The disparity between recent
estimates of recreational harvest and the historical recreational
harvest estimates that have been used for fisheries management decision
making to date, clearly indicate the need for more resources to
be deployed to prevent errors of such magnitude occurring in the
future. It is also agreed that better information regards "all
other forms of fishing related mortality" by all sectors need
to be developed.
Until the rights of the public are clearly defined the public role
in the management of New Zealand's fisheries cannot be determined.
If we are to become involved in management, surely we have to define
what it is we will be managing.
We accept that the recreational sector needs to play its part in
managing stock to sustainable levels and suggest there is already
adequate evidence to that effect. The recreational MLS and reductions
in bag limits in the past are examples of our resolve to support
sustainability. At the same time the playing field has to be leveled
and the public sector representative organisations need to be assured
that adequate resourcing is available for the level of management
responsibility that comes out of the rights definition process.
Minister, as indicated above, the purpose of this letter is to show
to you that the recreational sector is in consensus on the recreational
fishing reform process. We feel it entirely reasonable to expect
to see some real effort put into the recreational reform process
by you and your Ministry, as promised. Why have little or no resources
been dedicated to furthering the public fishing rights definition
process since the tabling of the Cabinet Paper in November 2001?
Why are all MFish resources being used to address the needs of the
commercial sector (new species into QMS and Aquaculture reforms
to name a couple) while we stand and wait?
We look forward to your response. We would also appreciate receiving
advice you might receive from your Ministry regards this correspondence.
We, the undersigned, remain yours in good faith,
|Ross Gildon, President, NZRFC
|Jeff Romerill, President, NZBGFC
|Paul Barnes, Project Leader, option4.co.nz
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