Bag Limit Changes Irrelevant
is the response from option4's Trish Rea to the Minister of Fisheries
announcement that there will be no change to recreational bag limits
for kahawai. "David Benson-Pope has still failed to allow for the
public's interests as he is obliged to do by law."
It is not surprising the
Minister has rejected the notion of decreasing the bag limit. The
level of the kahawai allocation granted by the Minister to the commercial
sector will mean less kahawai for recreational fishers and little
chance of them achieving a bag limit catch.
"What we need is a rebuild
of our second most popular recreational species", says the option4
spokesperson. "You cannot catch what isn't there" she goes on to
add. "Mr Benson – Pope knows that, the Ministry of Fisheries
knows that, and we know it."
Fishing representative organisations
the NZ Big Game Fishing Council, the NZ Recreational Fishing Council,
the NZ Angling and Casting Association and option4 are mounting
a combined court challenge to the Minister's August decisions regarding
the Total Allowable Catch and allocation of kahawai.
"Catch limits are meaningless
if there are so few fish to catch," adds New Zealand Big Game Fishing
Council's President Jeff Romeril.
option4 is concerned the
Minister now states " the new research will allow us to make
robust decisions on issues like this."
It would have been preferable
if the Minister had initiated the research before allocation decisions
were made. "The situation now is that quota rights have been given
to commercial fishers without knowing the full extent of current
catch. It does not make sense to hand over perpetual property
rights without full understanding of the stock size, continues Rea.
Compensation issues could conceivably cloud the Minister's future
judgement, which is not ideal when discussing a species of such
importance not only to fishers but to the whole marine ecosystem,"
"We are determined to have
the kahawai decisions reviewed in the interests of the public and
our future generations. The well-documented traditional catches
of kahawai by Maori will only recover if more fish are left in the
sea. Recreational fishers also want an abundant kahawai fishery
and we intend working together to achieve the outcomes we seek."
The Minister believes he has made his latest decision in the interests
of fairness. We question when the Minister is going to have regard
to his obligations under the Fisheries Act where non-commercial interests
have to be allowed for and not taken as an after-thought.