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Anglers See Red Jan 2005


Kahawai Quota Cut has Anglers Seeing Red

by Tony Orman

January 2005


This article was originally published in the Marlborough Express

20 January 2005

Recreational fishermen are angry at Government fishery mismanagement of one of the public's top recreational fish species, the kahawai.


Often called the people's fish, because of its popularity, kahawai should be returned to the public by sensible management say national recreational fishing organisations.


The New Zealand Big Game Fishing Council, the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council, the New Zealand Angling and Casting Association and option4 are collectively challenging the recent kahawai allocation under the transferable quota management system decision.


Their anger is simple: the kahawai fishery has been decimated through years of overfishing. The quota allocation does not acknowledge that that public's recreational catch rates have declined.


The fishery has been demolished to the point where recreational and Maori customary fishermen are struggling to catch enough to feed their families. An injustice has been wrought on the public and this needs to be addressed.


Instead, the current Minister of Fisheries, David Benson-Pope, has placed kahawai into the tradeable quota Management System, thereby privatising a public resource. This decision has been made without adequate information or consultation.


To add salt to the wound, the Minister also expects the public to take a 600 tonne cut to the already depleted catch rates in order to prop up the excessive kahawai quotas now mostly held by corporate fishing companies.


A rapid rebuild of kahawai stocks is required to fulfil the needs of the recreational public and Maori customary fishermen. This is not out of order and in fact it is required by law for the Minister to "allow for non-commercial interests"!


The representatives of the four national recreational fishing bodies do not believe the Minister has done this. Nor has he acknowledged the effects of successive years of mismanagement by the Ministry of Fisheries (MFish) under previous ministers.


The history of the kahawai is one of plundering by corporate company purse seiners. Yet government uses catch history to set quotas.


The total catch in the decade 1980-90 was phenomenal – around 25,000 tonnes a year taken with the help of spotter planes to locate schools for the purse seiner trawlers to then surround and clean out.


The fish were exported for very low prices and used as bait by Australian crayfishermen. It may have also sold for pet food and fish meal – a waste of a priceless public resource.


It is a gross injustice to issue quota based on catch histories which have been gained through plundering, and at the expense of other legitimate users, such as the 1.3 million New Zealanders who go fishing for food and fun.


The issue is not only about kahawai fishing, but about the injustice and threat to our Kiwi lifestyle.


The Minister's and Ministry's decision must be challenged. These organisations need you to go online to www.kahawai.co.nz and register your support. Dig deep into your pocket and help finance the work they are doing to protect your interests!


* Tony Orman is a Marlborough recreational angler and author of fishing books.



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