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Media Release Nov 2006

Maori and European Recreational Fishing Groups Unite to

Take Government to Court in Unique Public Good Case

November 2006


In a case for the public good recreational fishermen, supported by the country’s largest iwi Ngapuhi and public interest advocates option4.co.nz, have banded together to take the Government to the High Court over its management and allocation decisions for kahawai.


The Auckland High Court has set aside four days, from November 6th, to hear the landmark case.


The New Zealand Big Game Fishing Council and the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council are taking the case to protect the fishing rights of the non-commercial sector. 


Kahawai is the example that is being put forward for the case but it applies to all key fish including snapper, tarakihi, crayfish, paua, blue cod, kingfish, shellfish, gurnard, john dory and hapuku.


Thousands of Kiwis from around the country have supported the group’s collective motto of “more fish in the water” so there is a return to better catch rates and the recreational fisherman continues to have the opportunity of catching the traditional meal for his family.


As a direct consequence of commercial fishermen racing for catch history to secure valuable quota property rights kahawai fishery has gone from being an abundant ‘people’s fish ‘to a shadow of its former glory.  Much of that excessive catch in the early 1990’s was sold at marginal prices to low value markets such as crayfish bait in Australia.


As a result of the over fishing the kahawai are now smaller and less available to traditional, customary and recreational fishermen fishing for food.  The groups say that those who caused the depletion of the fisheries must take the cuts to rebuild the fishery. 


Commercial fishers have lodged a counterclaim seeking to reduce the recreational allowance and increase their share.


The groups believe the outcome of this historic case will have a bearing on how the Minister of Fisheries will in future make decisions for all shared fisheries, not just kahawai. The ongoing support of the country’s largest iwi, Ngapuhi, has been of tremendous value to the Councils and option4 as they have struggled to resource the case and maintain focus over two long and very expensive years – kia kaha.


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