The Minister of Fisheries
The purpose of this letter is to advise you that there
is complete consensus between NZRFC, NZBGFC and option4.co.nz on
the following key recreational fisheries management principles.
This consensus has existed for some time and is now formalised in
developed during the Soundings process.
to non-commercial fishing as guaranteed by the cornerstone statement
in the 1989 Recreational Fishing Policy.
- Need for
legislative reform to implement the principles and preference
statement and to ensure the public sector is adequately resourced
to be an effective contributor to fisheries management.
of the capped proportional share concept.
- The requirement
for improved information.
key points are discussed in more detail below.
developed during the Soundings process
have been policy of the NZRFC for many years and were reaffirmed
at their AGM in July 2001. This endorsement took place at the
annual general meeting. Ministry of Fisheries staff witnessed
this process of arriving at consensus. NZBGFC have also endorsed
these principles, as have option4. We note to date that only
one of these principles has been adopted by Government with your
clear statement that there will be no licensing of recreational
- A priority
right over commercial fishers for free access to a reasonable
daily bag-limit to be written into legislation.
- The ability
to exclude commercial methods that deplete recreationally
- The ability
to devise plans to ensure future generations enjoy the same
or better quality of rights while preventing fish conserved
for recreational use being given to the commercial sector.
- No licensing
of recreational fishers.
statement in the 1989 Recreational Fishing Policy
The "cornerstone statement" in the 1989 Recreational
Fishing Policy, signed off by the senior Labour Party Minister,
the Hon Colin Moyle, states: -
"The cornerstone of the policy is presented in the first
national objective: to ensure recreational users have access to
a reasonable share of fishery resources. Government's position
is clear, where a species of fish is not sufficiently abundant
to support both commercial and noncommercial fishing, preference
will be given to noncommercial fishing. This position reflects
Government's resolve to ensure all New Zealanders can enjoy and
benefit from our fisheries."
All three organisations are unanimous and consistent in their
endorsement of the 1989 Policy, and the Ministers forward in the
form of his formal letter of introduction and release and the
cornerstone statement contained in the 4th paragraph, now known
as the "Moyle Promise". This very important policy document
is still very much alive. It has never been repealed by any subsequent
Government, or the Ministry. It was however ignored by the National
Government and the Ministry during the 1990s.
To the recreational sector, the 1989 Policy is the equivalent
of the Treaty of Waitangi to Maori. For many years, neither recreational/sustenance
nor the Maori sectors were recognised by the Ministry. The recreational
sector will not rest until the statement confirming preference
to noncommercial fishing (as stated by the Minister in the 1989
Policy) is recognised by Government.
for Legislative reform
All three organisations have agreed on the need for legislative
reform and for the defining of the public's right in the legislation.
We are open to further discussion on how this can be achieved
but before firming views and policies we have awaited the occasional
papers and legal documents that were promised in the paper "Recreational
Fishing Reform: Action Plan 2002-03" released by the Ministry
in January 2002. In that paper it was stated:
"Phase one: February - July 2002
Occasional Papers and Seminars
The consultation processes to date have identified some issues
of concern to stakeholders and the Cabinet has outlined some constraints
and objectives of future policy development. In order to address
these issues and concerns MFish will commission papers on the
issues of most concern. Where demand exists, seminars can be held
discussing the papers with stakeholders. MFish can provide experts
to speak where this is beneficial. These meetings will consist
of a presentation followed by discussion and consideration of
different viewpoints on the issue at hand.
Suggested topics include:
· The Treaty of Waitangi and the Fisheries Settlement Act
and their implications for fisheries management
· International obligations, common law rights and related
· Property rights and their application to natural resource
management including the QMS and the management of commercial
fisheries under the Fisheries Act.
· Environmental objectives of government including the
Fisheries Act and the Marine Reserves Act
Given that there are stakeholders around the country and participation
can be expensive, seminars will be held in the regions and only
where a demand is demonstrated. Seminars can be tailored to the
concerns of different regions and scheduled in consultation with
The objectives of this phase are to foster a broad understanding
of how options might meet the objectives and constraints that
cabinet has set for the development of options for reform. It
will also serve to make information available on the broader policy
environment. MFish encourages people to take advantage of experts
and papers that we provide and to this end MFish will publish
the papers on it's website.
MFish will be happy to consider proposals for incorporation into
the policy development process from stakeholders at any time during
this phase (prior to the formal input in the consultation phase).
Options will need to address the objectives that government has
identified and to be achievable within the constraints that have
Given that it is now December we wonder where these papers and
seminars are. To our knowledge none have been issued nor any seminars
held. We ask, why have the Ministry not yet delivered these documents
and when will they? Is it now the intention of you as Minister
and your Ministry to just present the sector with a fait accompli
for consultation on the Governments preferred option?
of the proportional share concept
The recreational sector has, and always will, totally and unanimously
reject a capped proportional share concept because of the Moyle
Promise referred to above. We accept that management of fisheries
will continue under the QMS but this needs to reflect the public
right of access and priority.
We reject capped proportionalism because the fish in the sea are
a public resource, and the public right to be able to expect to
catch a reasonable number of fish on a fishing trip must come
before commercial interests within the requirements of a sustainable
fishery. The surplus should be available to the commercial sector
once they have paid the Crown for the access right to generate
revenue from a public resource. We reject any agenda to cap the
recreational catch in order to preserve some " fixed/defined
proportion" of the TAC for commercial concerns. As the High
Court stated in the judgment on SNA 1 (CA82/97) "If over
time a greater recreational demand arises it would be strange
if the Minister was precluded by some proportional rule from giving
some extra allowance to cover it, subject always to his obligation
carefully to weigh all the competing demands on the TAC before
deciding how much should be allocated to each interest group."
It is agreed that a fundamental element of sustainable fisheries
management is to ensure that management decisions are based on
accurate estimates of all sector's catches. The disparity between
recent estimates of recreational harvest and the historical recreational
harvest estimates that have been used for fisheries management
decision making to date, clearly indicate the need for more resources
to be deployed to prevent errors of such magnitude occurring in
the future. It is also agreed that better information regards
"all other forms of fishing related mortality" by all
sectors need to be developed.
Until the rights of the public are clearly defined the public
role in the management of New Zealand's fisheries cannot be determined.
If we are to become involved in management, surely we have to
define what it is we will be managing.
We accept that the recreational sector needs to play its part
in managing stock to sustainable levels and suggest there is already
adequate evidence to that effect. The recreational MLS and reductions
in bag limits in the past are examples of our resolve to support
sustainability. At the same time the playing field has to be leveled
and the public sector representative organisations need to be
assured that adequate resourcing is available for the level of
management responsibility that comes out of the rights definition
Minister, as indicated above, the purpose of this letter is to
show to you that the recreational sector is in consensus on the
recreational fishing reform process. We feel it entirely reasonable
to expect to see some real effort put into the recreational reform
process by you and your Ministry, as promised. Why have little
or no resources been dedicated to furthering the public fishing
rights definition process since the tabling of the Cabinet Paper
in November 2001? Why are all MFish resources being used to address
the needs of the commercial sector (new species into QMS and Aquaculture
reforms to name a couple) while we stand and wait?
We look forward to your response. We would also appreciate receiving
advice you might receive from your Ministry regards this correspondence.
We, the undersigned, remain yours in good faith,
Ross Gildon, President, NZRFC
Jeff Romerill, President, NZBGFC
Paul Barnes, Project Leader, option4.co.nz