Home - kahawai.co.nz Kahawai
Register Your Support
Please Help
Contact Us
option4 website

Promote kahawai.co.nz


Fishers Hook into the Ministry Nov 2004


Fishers Hook into the Ministry of Fisheries

by Natasha Mitchell

26 November 2004


This article was originally published in The Weekend Sun


Recreational fishers will be hooking into the Ministry of Fisheries next year over the allocation decisions made when introducing the kahawai to the Quota Management System on October 1.

The New Zealand Big Game Fishing Council (NZBGFC), New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council (NZRFC), and option4, which supports recreational fishing for food, believe decisions made by Minister of Fisheries, David Benson-Pope, in relation to the kahawai quota are “unjust”. The groups are preparing for a legal challenge in the High Court which will seek a judicial review of these decisions. They hope a declaratory judgement would force the minister to reconsider the recreational and commercial fisher’s quota allocations.

A public campaign – the Kahawai Challenge - has been launched to gather support from the estimated one million New Zealanders who pick up a fishing rod at some point each year. The challenge’s primary aim is to have the kahawai fishery rebuilt and proper recreational access recognised.

Kahawai Challenge campaign manager Don Glass had a campaign stall at the Trade-a-boat Tauranga Boat Show on November 19 and was joined by option4 spokesperson and NZRFC board member Scott Macindoe.

Don says kahawai are the second most important salt-water species for recreational anglers and campaign supporters are concerned at the state of the fishery.

“Kahawai is the people’s fish.” Many people catch kahawai off the beach or from small boats in sheltered waters.

Scott says this is partly because they are easy to spot. Their schooling nature forces smallfry to the surface, attracting seabirds en masse. “There’s a wheeling cacophony of gulls in conjunction with kahawai feeding off the shores of Tauranga and the Mount. Tauranga is world headquarters for kahawai.”

Kahawai make pretty good eating for humans too.

“Fishing for kahawai is a tradition for many families. If you’ve ever cracked open a fresh kahawai with lemon and coconut cream, it’s the ultimate. And they’re good in a curry too.”

Kahawai catches were previously managed under a permit system but in August the minister announced they would come under the QMS from October 1 to safeguard the species. The decision called for a 15 per cent reduction in commercial and recreational catches, to 3035 tonnes for commercial fishers and 3415 tonnes for recreational fishers, not including a 1007 tonne Maori customary fishing allowance. But Don says this is actually an increase of five per cent from the 2002/03 season’s commercial catch of 2900 tonne.

According to Don, the ministry has based its decisions on “totally inadequate information”. At the time the minister said the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) was set with caution because of uncertainty about stocks.

Don: “You don’t go allocating quota without knowing what the state of the fishery is.” “A high-risk management strategy is being employed – the Maximum Sustainable Yeild – a commercially-driven strategy that has not worked for the fishing industry when applied to other fin-fish species and is not working for kahawai.”

He says large commercial fishing companies who use purse seiners (large nets that capture a whole school of fish), often assisted by spotter planes to target surface schools of kahawai, depleted fish stocks in the 1980s and 90s in a bid to establish a catch history. Fish were then sold for very low returns to the Australian crayfish bait and catfood markets.

“This senseless slaughter broke the back of the kahawai stocks at the direct expense of the non-commercial fishers catch rates.

“It’s amazing the number of people who’ve come up and said we go fishing at a place up the coast and we always used to catch kahawai there but now we don’t see them.”

Scott says Maori stand to lose the most physically, spiritually, and psychologically from a reduction in the amount of kahawai allowed to be caught by recreational fishers. “The kahawai is hugely important to Maori. It’s a taonga (treasure) for Tauranga and Whakatane. There’s no mana in the way it’s being treated, no respect.” Maori traditionally use manaaki manuhiri (welcoming gifts for visitors).

“Left unchallenged the precedent established with the kahawai decision has the potential to destroy recreational fishing as we know it.”

As well as the human cost, depletion of kahawai stock has an environmental impact as well.
Don: “There’s a whole ecosystem and kahawai fit right in there. Large fish eat kahawai. Kahawai eat smaller fish. If you take kahawai out of the food chain, something else suffers.”

Lawyers Hesketh Henry have agreed to aid the cause but costs are estimated at $200,000, not taking into account likely appeals. NZBGFC is contributing $25,000 and option4 $10,000 as start-up money, but the Kahawai Challenge campaign is aiming to raise money towards the legal costs as well.

The Ministry of Fisheries did not wish to comment on the possible court challenge.

For further information, visit www.kahawai.co.nz or call 0800 KAHAWAI (0800 52 42 92).



site designed by Axys   All rights reserved.