Despite ongoing protestations kahawai continued to be poorly managed.
Nothing, it seems, was going to stop purse seiners, assisted by spotter planes, vacuuming up kahawai and shipping them across the Tasman to be used as fishmeal and crayfish bait.
Finally the Minister of Fisheries decided to introduce kahawai into the Quota Management System in 2004. The objective was to reduce conflict by better managing the fishery. It was this and the subsequent decision in 2005 that triggered the Kahawai Legal Challenge.
No regard was given to the ongoing depletion, excessive commercial fishing that had caused the disappearance of large schools of kahawai, or the effect on the environment and dependent species, both birds and finfish.
Instead of taking the opportunity to restore abundance the Minister, at the time, reduced the public’s allowance and commercial catch limit by an equal proportion, irrespective of who had caused the depletion or unavailability of kahawai to sustenance fishers.