of Fisheries Meeting with Recreational Fishers
16 December 2002
(This is not a verbatim record
of the discussions. Only the main themes are recorded)
Venue: 20th floor meeting room Bowen House
Minister of Fisheries,
The meeting started at 1910
The Minister opened by stating that he wanted to give the reform
process another go but wanted feedback from the sector as to whether
this was what it wanted and, if so, how it might be done. The Ministry
had, for a variety of reasons, dropped the ball. If the process
was to be restarted he didn’t want the ball dropped again.
The process and participants would have to deliver next time.
Officials outlined the reason why there had been no substantial
process. A key staff member had resigned part way through the year.
Other work such as aquaculture reform, Treaty settlement issues,
the marine reserves draft legislation had all impacted on the resources
that a small policy section could devote to the project. The Ministry
has engaged a contractor to work on the project full time but the
sections work load including the impact the two investigations into
the “scampi” allocation issue would mean that input
into the project from other policy team members in 2003 would again
RF stated that there was now common agreement amongst recreational
fishers as to the outcome they wanted from the reform process and
that this was set out in their letter to the Minister. Recreational
fishers wanted Moyle’s promise honoured. There had been past
misrepresentations by the Ministry of what recreational fishers
wanted and that this had contributed to both the lack of trust in
the Ministry that existed at present and the negative views about
The Minister acknowledged the lack of trust and reiterated that
he couldn’t afford to have the ball dropped again. The Ministry
had limited resources and he, as Minister, didn’t want to
commit resources to a reform process that might not produce a result.
He saw a need for a open and robust process that provided for participation
but didn’t require significant resources to sustain its operation.
He thought some form of legislative change was likely to be required.
This introduced some uncertainties over which he had only limited
control such as whether he could obtain a slot in the government’s
RF stated that an open process with independent reporting was essential.
Ministry reports obtained under the Official Information Act suggested
that the Ministry was misrepresenting the views of recreational
fishers. The status of Moyle’s promise was an issue. Officials
had previously suggested that it had no status.
The importance of Moyle’s promise was reiterated, and the
process leading up to its announcement discussed. The importance
of the promise had been discussed at the Ministerial Advisory Group
meetings. Recreational fishers attending these meetings had left
with the impression that the Minister and officials had supported
the promise as a basis for reforming the recreational right to fish.
Officials indicated support for the ten national objectives had
been expressed at these meetings. RF suggested that keeping minutes
was essential to avoid this situation.
The nature of a priority right for recreational fishers was discussed.
RF suggested that a distinction existed between sustenance and sports
recreational fishers. Within the priority right for recreational
fishers those fishing for sustenance purposes should have a higher
priority. Priority didn’t mean unconstrained priority. There
would be bag limits and recreational fishers would exercise voluntary
restraint as they had always done. What they didn’t want to
see was the product of their restraint given to commercial fishers
as had been recommended in SNA2.
Officials suggested there were two components to a priority right
– a spatial component and a share of the total allowable catch
TAC. Altering the recreational share of the TAC had consequences
if you wanted to maintain the integrity of the quota management
system. The two consequences are: its impact on the Crown’s
deed of settlement with Maori that was in large part effected through
individual transferable quota; and claims for compensation from
quota holders. These would arise because the Crown was not protected
from compensation claims where reallocation occurred for other than
RF suggested that the reallocation could occur using the increased
fish populations in rebuilding fisheries. Officials suggested that
this too might attract compensation claims because the reallocation
was occurring for other than sustainability reasons. It was suggested
that compensation was the Crown’s problem and it should plan
for it. There was a suggestion that experience from overseas might
be relevant. Some Australian states were retiring commercial fishing
rights from recreational fishing areas. How was this being funded?
Officials suggested that spatial priority (depending on its extent)
might attract compensation claims. RF suggested there were alternatives
that could be explored as to how any compensation could be funded.
Possibly these options should be put to recreational fishers for
them to decide. There needed to be a proper negotiation process
to address these issues rather than the Ministry developing options
and then reworking options based on the feedback. A negotiated outcome
The Minister pointed out that there were some stages in the process
where Crown had certain prerogatives. These needed to be acknowledged.
The meeting then turned to discuss what process might be followed.
The Minister suggested some operating procedures or rules of engagement
might be useful in facilitating future discussions. Officials suggested
a revised time line under which discussions with sector would take
place in January-April 2003 on the process to be followed, the occasional
papers, and what the components of a revised recreational right
to fish might be. Officials would have to report back to the Minister
and Cabinet on the outcome including a preferred recreational reform
option. If approved this option would then be the subject of a further
round of public consultation in July-October 2003. A report back
to Cabinet would follow. If legislative change is required this
process would occur in 2004 including select committee consideration
of any legislative change. The earliest any legislative change could
be expected was late November 2004.
The Minister stated his support for getting the process underway
again but indicated he wanted to be assured that there was a reasonable
prospect for an agreed reform option being produced. He noted that
he couldn’t guarantee a legislative slot if legislative change
Commitment to proceeding further was discussed. It was suggested
that the present right was largely given expression by the restrictions
applied to it under the amateur fishing regulations and through
fishery management decisions impacting on recreational fisheries.
RF suggested there should be both a review of the amateur fishing
regulations before any further work was done on reforming the right,
and in the interim, no fishery management decisions adversely impacting
on recreational fishers should be taken. There was a discussion
of the implications of this and what it meant in practical terms.
Some felt a review of the regulations should not take precedence
over the review of the recreational fishing right. Conducting a
review of the regulations would have a significant impact on any
timeline for reviewing the right, pushing it out beyond the term
of the present government. The view was expressed that it was better
to get a quality job done rather than to rush the process. The Minister
indicated that he wasn’t averse to reviewing the regulations
but had concerns about the timing and resource implications. He
doubted it should form part of the review of the right to fish.
The discussion returned to the future components of the recreational
right and the need to be clear about these before people could commit
their time and resources to a process of reform.
It was suggested that as time was running out it might be better
to focus on the process and rules of engagement. Some suggestions
put forward by RF were:
• Negotiation based;
• Minutes to be kept of meetings;
• Costs of liasing with members to be meet by Ministry; and
• Process should be broken into smaller meaningful stages
to allow participants to establish whether they wanted to proceed
to next stage.
Officials suggested that a further meeting be held in late January
2003 to discuss process options for proceeding further and to then
determine the extent of support for any further meetings.
The meeting concluded at 2130