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Legal Showdown Jan 2006


Kahawai - a legal showdown

by Keri Molloy

27 January 2006


This article was originally published in The Bay Chronicle 27 January 2006


Kahawai continue to decline in the Bay of Islands, says Kerikeri man Mark Feldman, as a legal showdown looms between non-commercial and commercial fishers.

Last year the Government decided to reduce the kahawai Total Allowable Catch (TAC) by ten percent, a move which was slated by the NZ Seafood Industry Council as unfair, unnecessary and disappointing and they have issued a counterclaim.

Their move has enraged campaigners such as Mark Feldman. Mr Feldman said this week, "Fisheries management doesn't know how many fish are in the water but are arrogant enough to think they can manage a fishery on a knife edge basis."

The NZ Big Game Fishing Council agree that kahawai numbers are down.

Kennedy France with a late spring kahawai

The Council says its members have reported a huge decline in the availability of kahawai since the late 1980s and in response to the commercial operators counterclaim, NZ Recreational Fishing Council and the NZ Big Game Fishing Council have now lodged an application to the High Court, hoping to 'better define the public's right to fish' and ensure more fish are left in the sea.

The case is backed by Ngapuhi and the advocacy group "option4", while the commercial fishing industry is represented by Sanford and the Sealord Group and Pelagic and Tuna Ltd.

Mr Feldman, a scientist and fishing writer, has been campaigning for a reduction in commercial take of kahawai for the past 20 years. He points out that kahawai deteriorate rapidly, and they are worth much more to recreational fishers and the tourism industry than to commercial fishers.

"Kahawai are worth almost nothing to the commercial operators. There seems to be no bounds to their greed. They don't want to give anything up. It is beyond my comprehension and I see it as the height of stupidity."

This is seen as a test case - not just about the kahawai but about how the Minister of Fisheries takes into account the public's right to fish under the fisheries legislation.

The Kahawai Legal Challenge is being funded by a public fund raising campaign.


How to help the campaign - please go here » » »



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