Kahawai Decision Rewards the Guilty and Punishes the Innocent
Campaign Background Info
The Minister of Fisheries
has rewarded purse seiners by awarding more kahawai quota than they
have been able to catch in the last two years just so that they
can increase their catch of kahawai for low value markets like Australian
where New Zealand kahawai is used as crayfish bait and pet food.
In the same decision announced
10 August 2004 the Minister, Hon David Benson-Pope has chosen to
further punish recreational fishers by imposing a 15% reduction
to "safeguard the popular fish species". A 15% reduction based on
previous commercial catch history is still more than the industry
has been able catch in the last couple of years. But for the recreational
sector, this means bag limits will have to be slashed. The real
injustice however, is the Minister claiming to have awarded the
recreational fishers "the lions share" when it doesn't matter what
size the allowance. If, as in this case, the fish stocks are declining
due to commercial greed, the fish just won't be there to be caught.
The Minister of Fisheries
has chosen to destroy the kahawai fishery, the second most important
recreational species in New Zealand dubbed "the peoples fish" to
prop up one of the least valuable commercial fisheries. And who
are the greatest effected? New Zealanders, and in particular, those
dependant on catching kahawai for food, the very people who can
least afford it.
Groups Take Minister to Court
A determined alliance has
been formed between the NZ Big Game Fishing Council ( NZBGFC), the
New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council (NZRFC), and option4 the
non-commercial fishing rights group. These representative fishing
organisations consider it is vital to challenge the Minister's decision
in court. The primary objective is to have the kahawai fishery rebuilt,
and proper recreational access recognised as a priority. The precedent
set by the Minister's decision on kahawai could affect recreational
fishers, whatever species they target.
This alliance of three large
non-commercial fisher's representative organisations is about to
issue proceedings to review the Minister of Fisheries' decisions
allocating quota for the kahawai species.
It is envisaged that
these legal proceedings will seek declaratory and other relief to
set aside the Minister's decisions for the kahawai species for 2004/05,
and for future years.
The proceedings will contend,
among other things, that the Minister's 2004 decisions are wrong
in law, including claims that the Minister's decisions:
- Fail to allow for non-commercial interests by recognising that
such interests have to be "allowed for" before determining the
Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC).
- Fail to allow for non-commercial fishing interests, by allocating
the TACC on the basis of catch history depleted by purse seine
- Fail to consider the cause and effect of fishing upon this important
non-commercial species, in particular, the effects of the purse
seining method of catching whole schools of kahawai.
- Fail to recognise likely imbalances in quota management for
non-purse seine commercial fishers caused by allocation of a large
percentage of the TACC to the purse seine fleet.
The alliance has also
formally advised quota holders of their intent.
These groups are prepared
to go into debt to mount this legal challenge. This government and
successive governments need to get the message! The non-commercial
fishing sector in this country has had a guts full and are no longer
prepared to tolerate being ignored!
However, not all of the estimated
1 million or more New Zealanders who from time to time might go
fishing are members of fishing clubs. Therefore an organised public
campaign to raise the funds to offset the costs of this legal challenge
is being organised.
This paper is distributed
with the approval of: NZ Big Game Fishing Council, NZ Recreational
Fishing Council, and option4.
More information can be obtained
or by calling Don Glass, Kahawai Legal Challenge campaign manager,
phone (09) 476 5959, 0800 KAHAWAI (524 292), e-mail: