Group - 3rd 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 10.30am at the Bucklands
Beach Yacht Club.
There were two main agenda items:
- Notes of the 19 February meeting and matters arising from this
- Further discussion on the development of reform options consistent
with the constraints set out in the Minister of Fisheries letter
of 21 January 2003 and the principles set out in the joint letter
dated 8 December 2002.
Notes from the last meeting
Notes from the 19 February meeting were accepted.
Actions arising from (or still outstanding at) the last
|Officials to provide a list of the quota transferred
to Maori as part of the interim settlement.
||Referred to Service Delivery within the Ministry for action.
Still under action
|Officials to provide a paper setting out where the right to
fish for food came from, how (and at what point) this right
to fish became eroded and subservient to other statutory rights
||Revised paper submitted by email on 10 March.
|Officials to provide a list of taiapures and mataitai reserves
||Draft response provided by email on 11 March.
|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.
||Finalised meeting notes sent out by email on 10 February.
|Officials to provide a paper setting out the fishery management
structures and processes relating to amateur fishing in a range
of Australian states.
||Paper submitted by email on 10 March.
|Officials to provide a paper on the fishery management regime
change implemented through the Fisheries Amendment Act 1990.
||Paper submitted by email on 10 March.
|Amateur fishers to provide a paper on right to fish for sustenance
purposes based on international agreements.
||Paper submitted by email on 9 March.
The paper explaining the
changes to the fishery management regime implemented in the Fisheries
Amendment Act 1990 was discussed. Officials briefly outlined the
contents of the paper noting that the changes had been carried out
to place better incentives on the commercial sector to fish sustainably
and to remove from the Crown the risks arising from the year by
year variability in fish stock numbers. They noted that the Minister’s
obligation to allow for non-commercial interests in the fishery
before setting the commercial catch allowance remained unaltered
although the changes to legislation made the expression of the allowance
more specific. A discussion followed on the allocations between
commercial and non commercial fishers. AF expressed the view that
restraint shown by the amateur sector on previous occassions had
not been subsequently reflected in increased allocations although
the commercial sector had received increased allocations. AF used
the recent SNA2 to illustrate where a recent initial Ministry allocation
advice hadn’t reflected the amateur fisher contribution to
the recovery in the fishery.
Point of Agreement
It was agreed that all groups (commercial and non-commercial) needed
certainty of outcome from the fishery management allocation process
and this was most likely to come from explicit allocation criteria.
These criteria should include an obligation to consider the role
played by each group in the decline or recovery of the fishery and
to reflect that in the final allocation decision made.
AF stated at the time the 1990 amendment came into force that introduced
the proportional basis to the ITQ allocation within the TACC, the
Ministry began to apply the same “proportional” system
across all of the allocations within the TAC even though there was
no statutory basis for doing so. This lead into a discussion of
how these proportional allocations appeared to only operate when
it came to reducing allowances but not to an increase in allowance.
SNA2 was used as an example by AF to demonstrate this. Officials
didn’t comment on the SNA2 decision but indicated that the
concerns over SNA2 suggested that amateur fishers needed a better
defined fishing right and explicit allocation criteria in legislation.
This would enable amateur fishers to better protect their own interests
without having to rely on the Crown to advocate amateur fishers
interests in the decision making process.
This lead into further discussion on allocation criteria including
the need for the value of the fish to amateur and commercial fishers
to be taken into account in any allocation decision. Kingfish was
used as an example of a species that research suggested was more
valuable nationally in amateur hands. The importance of fishing
for sustenance was discussed. AF felt this was a factor that needed
to be acknowledged in any allocation decision.
Point of Agreement
It was agreed that the value of the fish to each sector, using a
wide definition of value, be a factor considered in allocation decisions.
AF considered that the SNA2 decision demonstrated many weaknesses
with current fishery management. It wasn’t clear why SNA2
had to be reviewed at all. There appeared to be no relationship
between the recreational allowance and bag limits. Information that
was available to the Ministry about the level of the amateur harvest
hadn’t been used even though the Ministry was in possession
of information that seriously challenged the credibility of the
information it chose to use as the basis for its recommendations
on the recreational allowance. AF expressed the view that bag limits
really weren’t the issue. Amateur fishers were more interested
in their ability to catch fish. Officials indicated the review had
arisen from the AMP programme proposed to apply for SNA2. Information
was always going to be a difficulty particularly with regard to
the non-commercial catch. Not only were there difficulties with
surveying techniques but surveys represented a snap shot of the
harvest in a particular time period that may or may not be representative
of the amateur harvest AF suggested such fisheries needed to be
managed over a longer period of time to mitigate short term fluctuations
due to environmental conditions, access to the fishery due to bad
weather etc. Officials indicated sustainability reviews were generally
undertaken on an exception basis. Reviews of the TAC/TACC were generally
undertaken where assessments indicated sustainability issues with
current harversts, or surplus yield, or information suggesting some
other substantial change to the circumstances in the fishery. [During
this discussion the issue of the harvesting of red snapper and associated
impacts was discussed. It was agreed that officials would provide
details of the red snapper catch by method and by area over the
last ten years.]
The paper circulated by AF on the right to fish to harvest food
was discussed. AF considered that the Ministry did not acknowledge
adequately the importance of fishing for food by amateur fishers.
This had been important to New Zealanders irrespective of culture
since the settlement of New Zealand. There were dangers that those
who fished for food would be ignored or forgotten in any proportional
allocation system. AF considered Government was abdicating its responsibility
to protect the poorest in our community if it did not adequately
acknowledge and protect this right. AF felt the Government was ignoring
its international obligations because treaties to which it was a
party provided for such rights. Moyle’s promise acknowledged
the importance of fishing for food in acknowledging the need to
have regard to the impact of commercial fishing on the ability of
small communities to harvest food.
Officials indicated that this issue had been addressed in the occasional
papers . Treaties and covenants such as the International Covenant
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights [ICESCR] (and supporting
guidance protocols such as the Maastricht Guidelines and the Limburg
Principles) didn’t create specific rights for New Zealanders
in relation to fishing. In New Zealand only Parliament or the Courts
could do this. New Zealander’s enjoyed a common law right
to fish irrespective of the purpose. The Crown had imposed restrictions
on this right to benefit the community as a whole through ensuring
the sustainability of New Zealand’s fisheries. Article four
of ICESCR expressly provided for such acts by sovereign parliaments.
Officials didn’t accept that the present arrangements were
either infringing or were inconsistent with the Crown’s international
The issue of New Zealanders not being able to afford to buy locally
caught fish because it is priced on “export markets”
was raised. Officials suggested the experience from previous Governments
that had attempted to intervene in markets to achieve lower prices
suggested that the community bore the costs of such actions in lowered
economic efficiency and foregone employment and other economic opportunities.
It was accepted that the Government was unlikely to subsidize New
Zealanders to purchase fish nor would it impose controls to limit
exports. AF suggested that the availability of a species to non-commercial
fishers be used as a criteria in allocation decisions.
The paper on the where the right to fish for food came from, how
(and at what point) this right to fish became eroded and subservient
to other statutory rights and obligations was discussed. Officials
acknowledged that the drivers for legislative change back in 1908
were now unclear but that there should be a presumption that parliament
had acted to benefit the community as a whole rather than any particular
The group discussed the taiapures and mätaitai paper. AF expressed
concern over the fact that despite the passage of ten years no regulations
for taiapures had yet appeared. AF speculated as to whether this
might be indicative of a likely outcome of any special recreational
fishing right. Officials indicated that the regulation process established
quite high requirements for the local committees to meet and that
many did not have the resources to do so. There were other reasons
as well including the difficulty many iwi had in establishing boundaries
with neighbouring iwi, and a focus on the allocation and distribution
of the settlement process. For these reasons mätaitai were
now the preferred arrangement.
The paper setting out the fishery management structures and processes
relating to amateur fishing in a range of Australian states was
discussed. Amateur fishers are well organised and are more directly
involved in the management of their fisheries in Australia particularly
in Victoria and New South Wales. A number of Australian states either
have or are considering licensing marine amateur fishing. Part of
this funding has been used in NSW and Victoria to fund the buy back
of commercial fishing rights thus establishing commercial free fishing
areas. This lead into a discussion of licensing and how amateur
fishers might fund their ongoing involvement in fishery management.
A diverse range of AF views emerged. These included:
- The Australian experience wasn’t relevant to New Zealand
because fishing for food isn’t as important in Australia
as here. Officials didn’t accept this argument pointing
out that nearly 4/5ths of the Australian population lived close
to the coast. A survey undertaken by the Ministry on amateur fishers
motivations for going marine fishing in NZ strongly suggested
that the motivation to go fishing was more complex than only fishing
for food ;
- Amateur fishers noted that the Crown had compensated commercial
fishers for the cancellation of quota on several earlier occasions
and thought it unlikely AF would agree to funding the buy back
of ITQ from commercial fishers as had occurred in Australia;
- The Crown might use any funds generated from amateur fishers
to fund the consolidated account. Officials indicated in Australia
that the funds collected from amateur fishers went directly into
specials trust accounts administered by amateur fishers. The funds
could only be used for the purposes allowed in the trust deeds;
- The amateur right to fish needed to be defended. This requires
representational (peak) bodies and funding. Amateur fishers need
an autonomous source of funding ;
- Amateur fishers could improve their input into fishery management
(and achieve better outcomes for amateur fishers) by contracting
independent fishery advice but this required money. This could
either be resourced voluntarily or through some sort of levy.
Voluntary fund raising was likely to divert time and resources
away from the key business of improving the management of recreational
- Government could fund amateur fisher involvement in fishery
management but there was a risk that overtime these funds might
be slowly withdrawn leaving amateur fishers to fund their new
fishery management responsibilities;
- Funding models such as Yachting New Zealand (where it was free
to sail but a levy was paid if you wanted to race) or Fish and
- Need to address problem that the present effort on behalf of
amateur fishers comes from a few committed individuals (with the
rest in effect being free riders).
- Reference group members had no mandate from amateur fishers
to consider anything that might eventually commit amateur fishers
to funding via a levy or licensing;
- It was governments role to look after the interests of amateur
fishers and their fisheries;
- If amateur fishers were to be more involved in managing their
fisheries there was an absolute need to rectify previous injustices
before doing so, and
- Amateur fishers needed to identify the risks in being more
actively involved in fisheries management (as in Australia).
Point of Agreement
It was agreed amateur fishers needed resources to be better represented
in fishery management processes.
Officials indicated that there are a range of options for managing
recreational fisheries. For example these could be managed at a
central government level (the outcomes of which amateur fishers
had expressed considerably dissatisfaction about ) or at regional
government level (as is the case with aquaculture) or by amateur
fishers themselves. It was clear that the issue of amateur fishers
being more closely involved in management and how this might be
funded as an issue wasn’t going to be resolved today. It might
take many years to do so. It might be better to look at the issue
of reforming the recreational fishing right as a series of discreet
stages that would require debate and examination, discussion and
perhaps might not be proceeded with.
Initially, it might be best to focus on those areas where there
was a degree of consensus, such as the need for explicit allocation
criteria, and focus on producing a paper for the Minister on these
issues. It might be that what was proposed in these papers wouldn’t
be accepted by the Minister either in whole or in part and might
need to be modified but this was the first stage which any proposal
would need to go through. Officials noted that the time frame for
the reform work initially discussed with the reference group was
based on any legislative changes being considered by Parliament
in 1994. This was still an important deadline. This suggested that
a more limited reform proposal (requiring legislative change) would
still need to be developed, public consultation held, and Cabinet
approval obtained this year. It was agreed a 4 member working group
be established (two officials and two amateur fishers) to produce
a paper for consideration at the next reference group meeting on
3 April. This paper might form the basis of a paper to go to the
Minister outlining a reform proposal. The paper should identify
the elements of a reform option, identify those elements on which
a degree of consensus existed and to give expression to those elements,
identify those elements on which further discussion and consensus
building was required, and a process for promoting this. It was
suggested the working group would be more effective if its members
were also Reference Group members. [AF agreed to provide officials
with the names of their representatives on the working group.]
This discussion picked up from a debate on the Talking Points paper
circulated at the 18 February meeting. AF were asked to elaborate
how a priority right would operate in a situation where stock assessment
suggested the TAC should be cut. AF indicated there was a clear
need to have a defined starting point-one that addressed previous
injustices and was fair to all parties. There was a need to examine
the science of the fishery assessment. AF were of the view that
in recent years assessments had become more optimistic (because
their presence had fallen off somewhat). AF considered that if a
model used in the assessment process was unsustainable using the
new catch information then the TAC needed to be re-examined. It
might be necessary AF thought to put a range of options to amateur
fishers including gear restrictions and bag limitations. AF considered
that it was up to AF to decide what the most appropriate actions
were to manage the fishery. If AF decided that bag limitations had
gone too far and no longer were capable of sustaining adequate food
harvesting then the priority would be activated. In these circumstances
the commercial allocation would be cut
Point of Agreement
It was agreed that it was desirable an independent and credible
scientific process be used to support fishery management decisions
and that non-commercial groups needed to be involved and have independent
access to this scientific process.
Officials raised the issue of whether the meetings held to date
were useful from the perspective of amateur fishers and whether
there was any commitment to continuing a process of seeking reform
of the amateur fishing right. AF indicated this largely depended
on whether and how their views were picked up in the paper being
produced by the working group and any subsequent papers.
Officials indicated that they would shortly have to prepare a paper
to the Minister advising him on progress to date. AF indicated they
had already been in contact with the Minister and amongst other
matters advised him that the meetings were useful.
The meeting concluded at 4.00pm.
Officials undertook to provide details of the commercial red snapper
catch by method and area over the past ten years.
Amateur fishers agreed to nominate two representatives on the proposed
The working group will meet and prepare a report for circulation
prior to the 4 April meeting, identifying:
- the elements of a reform option;
- those elements on which a degree of consensus exists (and to
give expression to those elements); and
- those elements on which further discussion and consensus building
was required and a process for promoting this.
Minutes of other Reference
Group meetings here »