Letter to Minister of Fisheries
The Honourable Pete Hodgson
Minister of Fisheries
On 11/3/02 option4 wrote to you asking to meet and discuss the concerns
we have with the Cabinet Paper FIN (01) 216. On 25/3/02 you replied,
clearly stating that
(a) you "wish to move on, not dwell on the past nor re-litigate
previous decisions" and
(b) you are "unable to meet with us in the near future".
We can only conclude that you have little desire to advance the
discussion regards the rights of recreational and sustenance fishers
in the near future. We are determined to see the issues raised in
our response to your Cabinet Paper addressed. The approach we have
taken to date has been to work within the process you have prescribed.
Our participation to date has, in our opinion, been totally committed
and of the highest calibre. Sadly, it appears you no longer wish
to continue that process.
The Action Plan provided by Dylan James from MFish on 29/1/02, designed
to "help stakeholders who participate to make their viewpoints
known to the Ministry and subsequently to the Minister ……
to improve the public consultation process" has obviously stalled.
We have heard nothing since that date. The occasional papers and
seminars promised have not materialised. This phase of public consultation
is scheduled to be completed by July this year. At that stage the
decision making process re-submerges with Ministry scheduled to
advise you in order for you to report back to Cabinet with a recommended
option for further public consultation by February 2003. Are we
to conclude that there is no real desire to consult with the public
in order to formulate that "recommended" option?
All of this is perplexing, given the Prime Minister's comments today
that her Government is one that "listens to the people".
You, sir, and your Ministry have demonstrated that you consider
listening to the public is in fact unnecessary and of little value.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the predetermined nature
of the rights definition debate has no room for clearly articulated
public input. Instead, the debate has degenerated into a piecemeal
fisheries management reform discussion, clouded with innumerable
side shows - regional management, charter boat information requirements,
public catch profiling, aquaculture debates, Marine Reserve Act
There is a tangible and growing public disaffection with the curtailment
of another process of government, the consultation phase of the
fisheries rights debate. It is obviously not palatable to continue
in an election year. That, however, is beside the point. Surely
you do not expect the public to pretend to forget about this fundamental
issue in order to allow political aspirations an uncluttered deck
to be played out upon. There is nothing more certain than this debate
taking its place on the election stage.
The overwhelming message we are receiving on a daily basis from
the myriad of option4 supporters is to either form a political party,
or offer guidance as to which political party, or parties, has a
policy which includes a priority right for the recreational and
sustenance fisher to their precious inshore-shared fisheries. It
is clear, this issue has more than enough pulling power to command
the votes of many people and those of their families and friends.
We will be writing to you, and the other political parties fisheries
spokespeople again shortly, polling each party's position on a number
of public fishing rights questions.
The team at option4