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The Minister's Response to the Consensus Letter

21 January 2003

In December 2002 option4, the New Zealand Big Game Fishing Council (NZBGFC) and the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council (NZRFC) wrote to the Minister of Fisheries formally advising him of our commitment to work together on issues regarding our right to fish for food.
Read the full text of the letter here »

This is the Minister of Fisheries response to the consensus letter.

Paul Barnes
Project Leader
PO Box 37951

Dear Paul


I am replying to your letter of 8 December outlining the key recreational fisheries management principles on which the recreational fishing sector has achieved consensus.

It was good to meet with you and the others on Monday night to talk through some of the reform issues. I hope it provides a useful platform for further work on the recreational fishing reform, which, as I indicated at the meeting, is important to improve the fisheries management framework in New Zealand.

I believe it is good news that the sector is now speaking with one voice on reform issues. This means we can now focus on the issues and a constructive process to identify what is achievable and what is not.

Your letter sets out some key principles that the sector endorses. I think it would be useful if I went through the key points in your letter and provided comments. Before I do so, however, I feel it is useful to reiterate that the Crown has a few principles of its own that will constrain what the Crown is able to deliver to recreational fishers.

The most significant of these are the Crown's obligations to Maori under the Treaty of Waitangi and the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992. As was explained at Monday nights meeting the currency used to settle the fishery claims was individual transferable quota-ITQ. The Crown will have major concerns about proposals that have the effect of undermining the value of this settlement.

I am also unwilling to accept proposals that significantly undermine the integrity of the present quota management system and ignore the legitimate rights of other fisheries stakeholders. The QMS is the cornerstone of the Government's fishery management regime. By and large the QMS is working well, certainly by comparison with other regimes internationally, and I have no wish to compromise the outcomes it has achieved.

It goes without saying that any reform proposal we agree must be environmentally sustainable and be consistent with where the Government wishes to go with its Oceans policy. I don't think this is a major issue between us.

There are also fiscal issues. As I indicated at Monday's meeting some of these are of concern to me but may not be insurmountable with innovative thinking and goodwill.

Recreational Fishers Key Points

Your letter sets out four principles developed during the Soundings process.

You note the Government has only endorsed one of these principles-namely that it will not be introducing licensing for recreational fishers. I recall that we briefly touched on the others during Mondays meeting. You will therefore have some idea of the issues that will need to be addressed if the Government is to work with you to find mechanisms that could effect concepts such as these. These are issues that will need to be discussed in the reform process that I hope all parties can commit to in the near future

As you know Cabinet has endorsed the nine national objectives set out in the National Policy for Marine Recreational Fisheries as providing a basis for continuing discussions on recreational fishing reform. The National Policy document was not an approved Government policy but a statement of how the Minister and Ministry at that time intended to carry out fishery management policies in recreational fisheries under the 1983 Fisheries Act. Both the text and the forward were written prior to the Crown reaching a settlement with Maori and therefore do not reflect current realities. My view is that we need to develop improvements to the current regime consistent with these realities but recognising the intentions of the 1989 policy document where this is possible.

I indicated at Monday's meeting that I saw reform of the Fisheries Act 1996 as a likely outcome of any reform process and that this will require me to seek a legislative slot in the Government's legislative programme. This is something I cannot give an assurance about at this stage.

The occasional papers referred to in your letter have been mailed directly to you by the Ministry.

I note your rejection of any reform option involving a fixed proportion and your comments about both the need for better resourcing of the Ministry's information gathering activities and the need to resource the recreational sector to participate in fishery management so it can fulfill its responsibilities arising from its fishing rights.

Thank you for attending Mondays meeting and for contributing your ideas. I hope I will be able to meet with you again in the New Year and we can make progress on this important area of New Zealand's fisheries management framework.

Yours sincerely
Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Fisheries


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