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Ministers Response to Reference Group Dec 2003

Minister of Fisheries Response

to Reference Group Letter

19 December 2003

Office of Hon Pete Hodgson

MP for Dunedin North

Minister of Energy

Minister of Fisheries

Minister of Research, Science and Technology

Minister for Crown Research Institutes

Associate Minister for Industry and Regional Development

Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Convenor, Ministerial Group on Climate Change

19 DEC 2003

Jeff Romeril


NZ Big Game Fishing Council

PO Box 93


Dear Jeff

Thank you for your letter of 1st December, providing a careful and comprehensive response to the reform proposal that were last discussed in October.

I am most appreciative of the time that you and your members have spent on these issues, and the way you have actively worked together to develop a consensus on the proposal for progress. I believe that the process of working together in this way, has allowed constructive dialogue to develop, which we can build on in the future.

At the end of the October meeting I asked the Reference Group to see if they could reach a consensus on the level of support that you would be able to provide for a number of specific areas of reform, including amendments to the Fisheries Act.

Your response indicates that there is consensus within your group to support some parts of the package, but not others. In particular you are unable to support the proposal to alter section 21 of the Act, to set out specific criteria for the Minister to have regard to, when making allowances before setting a "Total Allowable Commercial Catch" (TACC).

I am heartened by the support you have indicated for most parts of this proposal. I note your opposition to reform of section 21, which I saw as a central element of the reforms. The proposed amendments to s21 would improve the certainty and transparency around the provision of the allowance for recreational fishers, and thereby give better specification of the nature of the recreational right. Given the position explained by the Reference Group, the conclusion I reach is that the option of using legislation to effect reform of recreational fisheries will have to be postponed for the immediate future.

As I indicated at our meeting, legislative reform would only be successful if it had a substantial degree of stakeholder acceptance.

Given the already tight legislative program for next year, and the time that has elapsed, I think we have missed the chance of clarifying allocation decisions as they relate to recreational interests, by altering the Act, and we need to make progress by other means on the issues where we are in agreement.

It may be that, in the future, we can revisit the allocation issue and continue to try and reach agreement, using the very useful background work that we have carried out together.

As I noted earlier, I am heartened by your agreement to provide support for other proposals because I believe that there are several areas where we may be able to make significant progress. These are;

•  Better information on recreational fishers and fisheries

•  More clarity about decisions in respect of recreational fisheries

•  Review of specific regulations


Better information

It seems clear that the allocation decisions under the present Act, as well as decisions in respect of other measures, such as section 311, and sustainability measures, would benefit from improved information on recreational fishing activity. This information will provide for the better recognition of recreational interests and a better platform for future decisions.

I note that work is underway within the Ministry to identify specific research projects and I have indicated my support for obtaining increased funding to obtain improved information. When we have improved harvest estimates, these can be used as a basis for decisions on existing allocations. The proposal for cooperative development of a recreational CPUE type database is worthy of further consideration in order to develop a workable option.


More clarity about decisions affecting recreational fishers

There are several developments underway which will assist in providing a better understanding of recreational fisheries management.

  1. An agreement by the Fisheries Management business of the Ministry of Fisheries, to develop a more transparent process for the consideration of proposals, including those from the recreational fishing sector, for inclusion in the Ministry sustainability review process.
  2. The development of stock strategies. These documents will, over time, outline the management objectives for the stock, and the various measures put in place to work towards attaining those objectives. It is intended that these strategies will set out specific management objectives, including those for recreational fishers. The strategies will provide for the involvement of all sectors in setting the objectives for the fishery.


Review of specific regulations

I understand that the Ministry has already approached your group with an invitation for you to put forward ten specific regulations for review, and has committed to initiate the review.

While the full detail of these measures is not yet developed, I am confident that they will, over time, improve the management of recreational fisheries, particularly in respect of the integration of decision-making.

Looking back over the process of the last 18 months or so, it seems to me that we have reached the end of a particular stage. We have had a series of, at times robust, but productive discussions which have improved our ability to work constructively together. While there hasn't been enough of a consensus to proceed with legislative reform; we have nevertheless had positive results in identifying a number of particular areas where the management of recreational fisheries can be improved.

In the next stage, Ministry officials will continue, with your assistance, to work on the issues we have identified, particularly the proposals to improve the accuracy and scope of information on recreational fishing. I have no doubt that, while there is still work to be done in creating more certainty and transparency in respect of recreational rights, the work so far is a positive step.

Thank you once again for the very significant time and effort that you have put in voluntarily on behalf of recreational fishers.

Yours truly

Hon Pete Hodgson

Minister of Fisheries



Paul Barnes

Ross Gildon

Bill Cronin

Project leader







Read the complete text of the letter sent to the Minister on December 1st 2003 from the Rights Reference Group here » »

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