Group - 1st Meeting
The Reference Group consists of individuals from option4, the New
Zealand Big Game Fishing Council (NZBGFC) and the New Zealand Recreational
Fishing Council (NZRFC). This group was formed after a meeting with
the Minister of Fisheries in December 2002. It was an attempt to
progress the reform of recreational fishing. The process involved
representatives from the Ministry of Fisheries and the recreational
sector working through documents and trying to find a workable solution
to resolve the outstanding issues for the recreational sector including
the 4 principles.
Notes of issues discussed and decisions made.
|Amateur fishers (AF):
The meeting commenced at approximately 4.00pm at the Bucklands Beach
Proposed agenda was discussed. Some AF thought it was important
that the meeting focus on the development of a reform option. This
would enable fishers to ascertain if the development of an option
incorporating the 4 principles set out the 8 December letter to
the Minister from NZRFC/option4/NZBGFC was possible. If the development
of such an option wasn’t likely then fishers would have to
consider if it was worthwhile proceeding with the reforms using
the proposed process. Some AF expressed the view that it was best
to start by identifying at what point and how the unrestricted right
to fish by amateur fishers had become subservient to other statutory
rights and obligations. O indicated that the occasional paper on
the legal nature of the right to fish discussed this issue but agreed
to provide a paper on this matter. An assessment of further threats
to the right to fish was also required.
Additional agenda items were suggested. These were:
- Consultation with Maori-when will this take place?
- MCG process and papers. Amateur fishers made a number of submissions
during this process to which the Ministry has yet to respond.
- The SNA2 decision. Why weren’t the provisions of s308
used by the Crown to reallocate a reasonable allocation for non-commercial
(amateur) fishers under the Act free from the possibility of compensation
- What the Minister wanted to achieve with the “Oceans Policy”
and what impact this would have on the amateur fisher right to
fish and its reform
The Minister’s letter of 21 January 2003 (responding to the
8 December letter) was seen by some as suggesting the Government
had some proportional based reform option in mind. Fishers had previously
rejected this approach. The letter identified a number of constraints
[settlement with Maori, integrity of the QMS, other users of the
resource, and compensation issues] limiting the scope of any reform
option. This was seen by some fishers as suggesting the Crown would
not be flexible in considering a full range of reform options. O
stated that the letter set out a number of matters to be taken into
account and considered alongside the principles set out in the 8
December letter when developing potentially workable options.
The constraint in relation to the settlement with Maori was discussed
and in particular the issue of compensation. At what point would
a Crown decision to reallocate fish from commercial to amateur fishers
impact sufficiently to generate a further grievance and possibly
trigger the payment of compensation? A request was made that officials
provide the meeting participants with a list of the quota transferred
to Maori as part of the interim settlement. Issues such as Taiapure
and Mätaitai were discussed. Officials were asked to supply
details of the number of such reserves established to date and their
The term recreational fisher was discussed and whether it was appropriate.
AF felt that the terms – non-commercial or amateur would be
better. [The writer has chosen to use the term amateur fisher for
The suggested process was discussed. The Minister indicated at the
meeting with amateur fishers on 16 December he wanted to proceed
with the reform process but he wanted this process to be completed
by the end of 2004. Of necessity this means that the draft time
frame and process submitted to the meeting for completing all the
suggested stages in the process is tight. O acknowledged that those
groups represented at the meeting needed to be comfortable about
what was proposed but a longer process would likely preclude legislation
in this electoral cycle. AF expressed concerns as to whether the
process outlined fitted with amateur fishers need to inform their
constituent groups, to discuss various issues with these constituent
groups, and, amongst other matters, reach decisions on whether or
how to proceed with what was proposed. AF rejected the notion of
an imposed process and timeline. Further consideration was required.
O said that the proposed arrangements weren’t perfect but
that there was a need to get the work done.
AF suggested that attendees at the meeting needed to show their
constituent groups that some progress was being achieved over and
above matters such as timetables and processes. O suggested that
it was impractical to expect a full discussion about a reform option
and related issues within the confine of one meeting and that some
process was needed to guide future discussions and the development
of reform options.
O provided copies of some explanatory talking points to explain
the process and other agenda items. AF felt they needed further
time to consider both the process and the time frame proposed. The
view was expressed that the participant organisations didn’t
need to be bound by the Minister’s timetable. If it was going
to take longer to determine a satisfactory reform proposal then
there would be other ministers in other governments that would run
with it. The need for reforms was seen as too important to be ignored
by any government. The public needed to be convinced about a reform
option otherwise there was likely to be a repeat of the adverse
reactions to the “soundings” process. SNA1, and the
possibility of future legal action, was used to illustrate why the
reforms couldn’t be ignored.
AF expressed the view that they wanted to avoid a “them v
us” situation. It was important that amateur fishers should
be able to fully participate in the process, and that the process
should be one of negotiating a reform option. O pointed out that
as officials they had no mandate to negotiate on behalf of ministers
nor was this the way government in most cases operated. There would
be occasions during the proposed process when officials couldn’t
be open (such as the provision of advice to the Minister) or when
amateur fishers would not be permitted to participate such as the
preparation of the Cabinet papers. AF accepted that it couldn’t
be a negotiation in the sense of any outcome agreed within the reference
group being unalterable (given the role of the minister, cabinet
and the other agencies involved) but that the purpose of the reference
group was to use members expertise to discuss and evaluate potential
options in a transparent manner.
It was agreed that:
- Meetings would be organised well in advance with adequate notice;
- Reference group constituent member groups would be responsible
about wider communication beyond that group;
- Problems within the group would at least be discussed within
the group before going public.
Purpose of Reform
This lead into a discussion about what the purpose of the reforms
might be. Different interpretations of what Government hoped to
achieve from the reforms were expressed. O stated that the objective
had always been clear-to improve the quality of recreational fishing
through better defining the recreational right (and thus protecting
it from possible future erosion), providing for its integration
with existing rights, and improving the operation of fisheries management.
The reforms also sought to increase the participation of recreational
fishers in the management of their fisheries. AF thought the reforms
were more to do with capping the level of the public harvest to
avoid future compensation issues for the Crown.
Resource and Priority Issues
The issue of resources was raised. The process required organisations
representing amateur fishers to work on behalf of the public. These
organisations had limited resources. Officials indicated they had
only limited resources. Only one full time equivalent was available
for the project. O quoted from a recently released discussion document
by the Ministry for the Fisheries Services Plenary about additional
resource proposals put to the Minister to support amateur fishers
participation in the management of fisheries. Some AF expressed
the view that what was proposed was too little. It was agreed that
option4 would be sent a copy of the document and put on the mailing
list. Officials indicated that meetings of the reference group would
be held in locations and at times that minimised travel and accommodation
costs for the majority of members.
AF saw a need for the Crown to act in good faith by not placing
further constraints on the right to fish during the policy development
proposals. O indicated that fishery management decisions would continue
to be made during the policy development process. This was the Ministry’s
on going business. A need was seen by some AF to conduct a review
of the Fisheries (Amateur Fishing) Regulations 1986 contemporaniously
with the development of a reform option. O thought that priorities
and limited resources meant the process should focus on developing
a reform option. If the right was properly defined other issues
such as the regulations could be more easily dealt with in this
Membership of the reference group was discussed. AF saw a need for
some flexibility in the composition of this group to allow continuity,
to provide for alternative members in the case of absence, and to
expose others to what was being discussed. It was agreed to keep
numbers at a manageable level. A smaller rather than a larger group
might be more conducive to making progress. It was agreed that future
representation on the Reference Group would consist of:
Membership Group Notes
option4 reserves the right
to bring, at its own expense, one observer member who might be Bill
Cooke or Jason Foord, or Trish Rea or option4’s legal adviser
Geoff Rowling NZRFC
Alternate member Max Hetherington
Jeff Romeril NZBGFC
Jeff Romeril is frequently
out of town on business.
Richard acts as Geoff’s
alternative. Richard may need to nominate an alternative if necessary.
Keith Ingram NZMTA
Alternate member John
Collins NZMTA chief executive
The need for operating rules was discussed. It was agreed that acting
openly and honestly; to make criticisms of another group members
actions directly rather than first going public; and to be accountable
for your own actions were useful ways of operating. It was in every
bodies interests to do so.
It was agreed there would be notes kept of the issues discussed
at meetings and the decisions reached. It was also agreed that the
draft of these would be circulated within 3 working days of the
meeting being held. Members would have 2 working days to suggest
corrections. A final draft is to be available 2 working days after
comments on the draft have been received.
How widely the notes should be circulated was discussed. Some AF
felt they should be circulated to a wider group beyond the Reference
Group members. It was decided that this should be a matter for the
constituent groups to decide. The constituent groups would be accountable
for any misuse of the notes. It was agreed that officials will distribute
the minutes electronically to group members. Distribution to a wider
group is the responsibility of the constituent groups making up
the Reference Group.
The timing of future meetings was discussed. A late afternoon start
wasn’t ideal for many out of town participants. A mid morning
start suited most participants. It was agreed to hold further meetings.
Agreed dates and times
19 February * 10am-4pm
12 March 10am-4pm
3 April 10am-4pm
Location: Bucklands Beach Yacht Club, Auckland
*some members are now unavailable for this date. Apologies. A new
meeting time is being arranged.
A possible agenda for the next meeting was discussed. There was
debate over the best way to develop a reform option recognising
both the principals set out in the sectors 8 December and the constraints
referred to in the Minister’s letter of 21 January. What did
priority mean in practice. This needed to be discussed. It was agreed
the next meeting should focus on discussing reform options consistent
with the constraints identified in the Minister’s letter and
the principles set out in the 8 December letter.
It was also agreed that officials would provide a short briefing
on Oceans policy to the group at the next meeting. O provided a
very brief overview prior to the meeting closing.
The occasional papers were briefly discussed. Many AF present had
comments and questions. O undertook to combine the occasional papers
into one Word document with consecutively numbered paragraphs and
email this document to Reference Group members. This would enable
better identification of issues for discussion at a subsequent meeting.
The meeting concluded at 8.00pm
- Officials to provide a list of the quota transferred to Maori
as part of the interim settlement.
- Officials to provide a list of taiapures and mataitai reserves
- Officials to provide option4 with an electronic and hard copy
of a recently released discussion document by the Ministry for
the Fisheries Services Plenary and to ensure option4 is on future
- Officials to send out draft meeting notes within three working
days of the meeting and finalised meeting notes within two working
days of any corrections being received.
- Reference Group members to send corrections to the draft notes
within two working days of their receipt.
- Officials to provide a paper setting out where the right to
fish came from, how (and at what point) this right to fish became
eroded and subservient to other statutory rights and obligations.
- Officials to combine the occasional papers into one Word document
with consecutively numbered paragraphs and email this document
to Reference Group members.
Agreed for consideration at the next meeting:
Discussion of reform options consistent with the constraints set
out in the Minister’s letter of 21 January and the principles
in the 8 December letter; and
Briefing on “Oceans Policy”.
Agreed for future discussion:
Consultation with Maori;
SNA2 decision; and
The Ministry's lack of response to various papers submitted to the
MCG by amateur fishers.
Minutes of other Reference
Group meetings here »