Both Councils have been well supported throughout the four-year Challenge by option4, Ngapuhi and Ngati Whatua, many other non-commercial fishing interest groups and individuals. All are disappointed at the outcome.
In particular, the Court’s ruling that the Minister can make a policy decision and has the discretion, provided he is well informed and reasonable, to give priority to either commercial or non-commercial fishing interests.
It is difficult to fathom that any government policy would deny its own people access to important inshore fisheries in favour of exporting fish for minimal monetary returns.
Does a crayfish in Australia have more priority to our kahawai than a Kiwi who stands on the beach all day waiting to catch a fish for his kids’ dinner?
Both interests must be considered when the Minister is setting the total allowable commercial catch (TACC) for a fish stock under section 21 of the Fisheries Act. The Court did acknowledge that there is provision for the Minister to set the TACC at zero but such decision would be subject to the test of reasonableness, which is a high hurdle in legal terms.