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Campaign Background Nov 2004

Minister's Kahawai Decision Rewards the Guilty and Punishes the Innocent

Kahawai Campaign Background Info

1 November 2004


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.


Recreational 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 fishing.
  • 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.


A Kahawai Challenge Fund

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 from: www.kahawai.co.nz or by calling Don Glass, Kahawai Legal Challenge campaign manager, phone (09) 476 5959,   0800 KAHAWAI (524 292),   e-mail: don@kahawai.co.nz

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