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Kahawai Update #13 Dec 2005

Proportional Allocation – The Simple Truth

Kahawai Challenge team

December 2005

Kahawai Legal Challenge Update New Zealand Fishing News

January 2006 edition 

Proportional allocation of fisheries is a method of giving all of the competing users in a fishery an explicit portion or share of the available catch.

As shareholders in the fishery, competing interests will be expected to work collectively together in the interests of the fishery.

If the fishery improves, everyone's portion is to be increased by the same percentage.

If the fishery becomes depleted, everyone's catch is to be reduced by the same percentage.

It sounds very simple, and on the surface, it appears to be fair.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Another consignment of kahawai booklets and t-shirts ready for dispatch.

Unfair System

option4 considers the proportional allocation of fish stocks between commercial and non-commercial fishers is an unfair system devised by the Ministry of Fisheries (MFish). The proportional system's only basis seems to be that it allows MFish to escape accountability for the allocation blunders and entrenched mismanagement of commercial fisheries since the introduction of the Quota Management System in 1986.

If MFish succeed, and a proportional system is adopted, non-commercial fishers will become little more than minor shareholders in a commercial fishery. This is because non-commercial fishers currently have poorly defined rights and no resources with which to compete against a well-heeled commercial fishing industry. A real fear is that commercial fishers will quickly gain control of the process, thereby allowing them to continue doing whatever they want.

Recreational fishers should never forget, even with all their resources, MFish have failed to adequately manage or constrain the commercial component of many important shared fisheries. In a proportional system the Ministry will remove itself from contentious decisions and will abandon the users to sort out fisheries issues with each other. There would be no hope for recreational and other non-commercial fishers under such a system where commercial fishers have most of the rights and all of the resources.

The initial allocations are of even greater concern. Recreational allocations are based on scientifically inadequate research undertaken in fisheries depleted to unacceptably low levels by excessive commercial fishing. MFish have acknowledged there has been no proper process to set the initial allocations. However, the Ministry has a perverse incentive to under-allocate to non-commercial fishers in order to avoid compensation issues for the Crown. This is driven by the reality that only commercial fishers hold property rights in the form of fishing quotas and can sue the Crown for compensation if those rights are affected. This serious imbalance means it is likely the Ministry will give commercial fishers everything they want and then allocate a hapless recreational sector the leftovers.

Taxpayers have already compensated commercial fishers to fish within sustainable limits to rebuild commercially depleted fisheries. These limits have been regularly exceeded since the introduction of the QMS. This over-fishing is the only reason catches now need to be cut again. Yet the Ministry blindly refuses to acknowledge the obvious link between cause and effect. It is clearly commercial over-fishing that has caused the depletion of the fisheries. It is equally clear the Ministry's failure to constrain commercial fishers to sustainable quotas has prevented many fisheries rebuilding. The remedy is just as obvious, if excessive commercial fishing has caused the problem then reducing commercial fishing, with the Ministry actually enforcing those lower quotas, is the only fair way to fix it.

Instead the Ministry wants to cut non-commercial catches as a way to prop up unsustainable commercial harvest and avoid paying compensation. This is grossly unfair to recreational fishers. Indeed it is hard to imagine a more unjust system. The real crunch will come when the Ministry attempts to constrain recreational and customary fishers to whatever proportional allowance they decides is appropriate. In some fisheries massive bag limit reductions or seasonal closures could be required. option4 believes proportional allocation will put recreational fishers on a hiding to nothing.

Every recreational and non-commercial fisher should be outraged and prepared to stand up and be counted. We must tell the Government that those who have done the damage to the fisheries are the only ones whose catches should be cut. The clearest message currently being sent to the Government that proportionalism is unacceptable is through the Kahawai Legal Challenge.

The Kahawai Legal Challenge has been taken on behalf of every non-commercial fisher in the country. The team consisting of option4, the New Zealand Big Game Fishing Council and the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council are working very hard. This often involves making huge personal sacrifices of both family time and money. They need all the support you can give them. Check out the form below to find out how you can help win this critical case.


What can you do to Help?

option4 has been managing the fundraising aspects of the campaign supporting the Kahawai Legal Challenge. Trustees of the Challenge Fund include the NZ Fishing News.

The primary fundraising tool is the Kahawai Booklet. If you want to get involved and raise donations please call our help team on 0800 KAHAWAI (52 42 92).

A snappy navy Kahawai Challenge t-shirt is available for $20 by calling

0800 KAHAWAI (52 42 92).

If you require assistance or would like to know more please call our team on

0800 KAHAWAI (52 42 92).

A quick $20 donation can be made by dialing 0900 KAHAWAI (52 42 92).

This will be debited to your phone account.

Visit the website www.kahawai.co.nz to order your Booklet online and find out more.

Please send your Booklets and/or donations to:

Kahawai Challenge Fund

c/o NZ Fishing News, Freepost 131323, PO Box 12-965, Penrose, Auckland.

Email the team at contact@kahawai.co.nz


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