Challenge to yet Another Fishing Decision
This article was originally
published in The
fishermen have joined forces with Maori to mount a High Court challenge
to Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope's decision to introduce
kahawai into the quota Management system (QMS) on 1 October.
the judicial review case against Benson-Pope, expected to be filed
in the High Court in early 2005, will be the New Zealand Big Game
Fishing Council (NZBGFC), the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council
(NZRFC) and option4.
for all three groups say Benson-Pope's QMS allocation decisions
for kahawai were so unjust they had to be challenged in court.
his 1 October 2004 announcement, Benson-Pope unveiled a total allowable
kahawai catch of 7,612 tonnes, comprising 1,007 tonnes for Maori,
3,415 tonnes for recreational fishermen and 3,035 tonnes for the
also allowed 155 tonnes for “incidental mortality.”
years ago, kahawai, a fighting fish, was a popular species with
most Kiwi kids. But numbers have sharply dropped and recreational
fishermen seem set to turn kahawai into an election issue.
blame commercial fishermen, saying the overall kahawai catch during
the past two decades has decimated the fishery.
also note the 6,000 tonne average commercial catch realises a meagre
return of about $3.2 million to the economy.
main buyers of kahawai in recent years have been companies in Australia,
the Middle East and Russian.
Macindoe of option4 says his group will seek court declarations
to set aside Benson-Pope's kahawai QMS decisions.
says evidence to be produced in court would seek to show Benson-Pope
had failed to:
- Allow for
non-commercial interests by recognising such interests had to
be allowed for before determining the commercial catch for the
- Allow for
non-commercial fishing interests by allocating the commercial
catch on the basis of catch history depleted by purse seine fishing;
the cause and effect of fishing upon this important non-commercial
species – in particular, the effects of the purse seining
method of catching whole schools of kahawai; and
likely imbalances in quota Management for non-purse seine commercial
fishers caused by allocating a large percentage of the commercial
catch to the purse seine fleet.
the purse seine fishing method, schools of fish are surrounded and
caught by nets with two boats working in tandem. Macindoe says the
combination of spotter planes, working with commercial and purse
seine fleets, had obliterated about 4000 schools of kahawai in the
past 20 years.
the fishing companies who pushed the business case for kahawai to
become part of the QMS was Sanford Fisheries, the leading company
in the New Zealand pelagic fishing industry.
operates five purse seiners from its Tauranga base and provides
work for about 104 staff.
purse seine fleet operates year-round for such species as skipjack
tuna, jack mackerel, blue mackerel and kahawai.
fleet earns Sanford from $18 million to $25 million in sales each
year. Sanford considers the kahawai fishery is a robust recourse,
capable of sustaining current recreational, commercial and customary
said in taking the case, recreational fishermen had consulted with,
and been supported by, Maori customary rights fishers.
said Maori would be the losers “physically, spiritually and psychologically.”
mana had been lost as the annihilation of kahawai meant the species
was unavailable for hospitality purposes to visitors, he said.
well-documented traditional catches of kahawai by Maori at river
mouths such as the Motu River will recover only if more fish are
left n the sea.
also ask, what good is exercising non-commercial customary fishing
rights (or recreational fishing rights) if entire schools of kahawai
are ‘missing in action', having been fed to Australian crayfish,”