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Beneath the Reflections
Draft Integrated Management Strategy for Fiordland’s
Fisheries and Marine Environment.
PO Box 37 951


The Guardians of Fiordland have invited comment (views) on the document “Beneath the Reflections” - Draft Integrated Management Strategy for Fiordland’s Fisheries and Marine Environment. The Guardians were kind enough to grant an extension of time to present these views. That extension was until 31/1/03.
In hindsight, that timeframe has been insufficient for option4 to adequately consult with its supporters. The far reaching and multi faceted implications of many of the proposals contained within the document really do demand more work to be done. However, the Guardians are no doubt working towards (as yet unspecified) certain timeline goals and are very likely working under time constraints of their own. We would make the point that process timelines do need to be more specific and detailed than otherwise contained within the document.
The unfortunate timing of presentation of the document for feedback/views falling only 2 months before Christmas and then being extended only one month after Christmas means that the public have, by and large, had little chance to effectively engage. option4 strongly recommend that additional time be offered for public input. Certainly, if compliance is an expectation the Guardians must be aware of the all important need for widespread public support and adherence to whatever the outcomes are.

The Guardians have invested six years of hard work in producing the “Draft Integrated Management Strategy for Fiordland’s Fisheries and Marine Environment”. This far-reaching, quite visionary document represents the views of the Guardians of Fiordland, a group of people passionate about this region. There is much good intention and good thinking to be gleaned from the many pages that make up their analysis and proposals. However, whilst they have toiled to do the best for their people and their region, so too many of us have worked long and hard to more clearly define the nature and extent of the rights of the public to gather seafood to feed their families and friends. Many of the proposed management initiatives need to be read in the context of this effort that the Minister of Fisheries, Pete Hodgson, and his Ministry have been so engaged with.

option4 was formed in the year 2000 by a concerned group of recreational fishers, in response to MFish’s invitation to participate in the process of redefining the nature and extent of the rights of the public to fish and gather seafood in New Zealand.
MFish, in conjunction with the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council, compiled a discussion document called "Soundings". This document suggested three options for the future management of the public's rights and access to public fisheries.
In option4’s opinion, none of the three options presented were acceptable for future management of New Zealand’s recreational fisheries, nor were they capable of improving the lot of non-commercial fishers. This was because all of the proposed options in the “Soundings” document allowed for the continual erosion of the fishing public’s individual rights. was developed to ensure that the fishing public, clubs, and organisations, as well as individuals, could send a clear message to the Government’s fisheries managers on precisely what is required to ensure that the rights of current and future generations of non-commercial fishers are protected.

Since its formation more than two years ago, option4 has gained widespread support from the recreational fishing public, clubs and organisations of New Zealand. In 2001 over 61,000 individual submissions supporting the principles of option4 were made to the Minister on the “Soundings” process. This represented an overwhelming majority of 98.3% of total submissions received on the issue. Since then, over 35,000 further individuals have made their support known to option4. Through its nationwide network, and with on-going support amongst recreational fishing clubs and organisations, option4 has established that it has the support of the majority of the recreational fishing public of New Zealand.

Principles of option4

option4 objective:
"To carry the four principles of option4 all the way through the rights redefinition process and to have those principles enshrined in legislation."

option4 principles:

  1. A priority right over commercial fishers for free access to a reasonable daily bag-limit to be written into legislation.
  2. The ability to exclude commercial methods that deplete recreationally important areas.
  3. 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.
  4. No licensing of recreational fishers.

3. Recreational Sector Representative Groups Consensus.

On 8/12/03 the NZRFC, NZBGFC and option4 sent to the Minister of fisheries a “letter of consensus”. We now quote directly from that document: -

“This consensus has existed for some time and is now formalised in this document.

  1. Principles developed during the Soundings process.
  2. Preference to non-commercial fishing as guaranteed by the cornerstone statement in the 1989 Recreational Fishing Policy.
  3. 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.
  4. Rejection of the capped proportional share concept.
  5. The requirement for improved information.

These key points are discussed in more detail below.

1. Principles developed during the Soundings process

The principles are: -

  1. A priority right over commercial fishers for free access to a reasonable daily bag-limit to be written into legislation.
  2. The ability to exclude commercial methods that deplete recreationally important areas.
  3. 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.
  4. No licensing of recreational fishers.

These principles 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 fishers.

2. Cornerstone 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 non-commercial fishing, preference will be given to non-commercial 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 non-commercial fishing (as stated by the Minister in the 1989 Policy) is recognised by Government.

3. Need 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 issues
  • 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 stakeholders.
    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 been set.”

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?

4. Rejection 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 judgement 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.”

5. Improved Information
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 stocks 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 levelled 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 process… ends.

4. Recreational Fishing Rights Reform/Definition Process.
On December 16th 2002, representatives from the various Recreational Fishing Representative Groups met with the Minister and his official from the Ministry of Fisheries.
The Minister writes (21/1/03) ….. “It was good to meet with you and the others on Monday night to talk through some of the reform issues. I hope it provides a useful platform for further work on the recreational fishing reform, which, as I indicated at the meeting, is important to improve the fisheries management framework in New Zealand.

I believe it is good news that the sector is now speaking with one voice on reform issues. This means we can now focus on the issues and a constructive process to identify what is achievable and what is not.”

On January 29th 2003, those same representatives met with Ministry officials to work on developing a process that can achieve public fishing rights reform/definition. At that meeting, it was made very clear that defining the rights of the public to fish their fisheries was of primary importance. Changes to regulations in the interim were also discussed at length and the public sector representatives were very clear; any changes to regulations whilst right reform/definition process was underway would only serve to distract and undermine the considerable effort already invested and planned to be invested in order to achieve this reform/definition outcome.

5. option4 Concerns with the Guardians Proposals.
All or Nothing Approach
The Guardians are quite clear in the “Implementing the Strategy” section (7.1) that “the negotiated package of measures contained in the strategy be implemented as a whole without compromising underlying principles and balances”. The Guardians then go on to say “should it be compromised the integrity of the strategy will be compromised”.

These are strong words – almost non-negotiable words. Where one sector (we, the public) is giving so much and other sectors so little, this is not a good place to go in a consultation process, never mind negotiation.

5.1 Guardians Objectives

5.1.1 “Take a pro-active role in identifying and advocating research and information needs…”

We note the lack of comprehensive historical catch and catch effort data (as available already) contained within the document

5.1.2 “Ensure that the rights of tangata whenua, recreational, charter operators, commercial and other user groups are identified and recognised and that these groups are involved in fisheries management decisions including access to the fisheries resource – (page 3)

Nowhere in the document is there reference to the fact that the public (including Maori who are fishing without the benefit of a customary fishing permit) are currently fully engaged with the Minister and his Ministry in work designed to define (identified) the nature and extent of the publics right to fish. This is of serious concern.

The objective also states that “Ensure that ….. these groups are identified..”
Nowhere in the document are the public sector representative groups identified. This is of concern. Please reference to section 5.5 of this submission. - Representation of the Recreational Fishing Sector on the Guardians.

The objective also states “Ensure that ….. these groups are involved…”.
It cannot be said that the public sector has been involved (adequately) at this stage.

5.1.3 “Prevent uncontrolled expansion of effort/harvest by all groups”
All groups currently exercise their rights with varying degrees of control and mechanisms to achieve that control. There is no uncontrolled harvesting.

5.1.4 “Adopt a cautious and responsible approach to proposals…”
The fisheries regulation proposals tabled, are, in the opinion of option4, beyond cautious as they pertain to the public sector’s rights to fish for food.

5.2 Developing the Draft Strategy

5.2.1 Gathering information

Despite emphasis of the Guardians intent to gather information, the Draft Strategy document makes no reference to the relative harvest of each fishery by each sector. Lets be clear, if sustainability is at stake, the public will share the load of addressing that issue. Before that is contemplated however, the causes and extent of the threats to sustainability must be clearly documented. It is ludicrous to expect the public to buy in to wide ranging cuts to their rights to feed their families on the basis of fears that the public might be a threat to sustainability at some unspecified point in time in the future, unaccompanied by any tabulated summary of extractions, historic catches or tonnages. Lets be told what % of each fishery we are, have been and are likely to be before any changes to our existing rights are tabled. Before the public can contemplate any cuts we expect information every bit as detailed and objective as would be required by the fishing industry to justify cuts to their quotas.

The document does not deliver in terms of historical catch and effort data. Whilst other publications might contain additional data, the document itself does not satisfy the needs of those being invited to submit their views. Until comprehensive data (as available already in various forms) is made readily available, this document fails in this respect. The document details much in terms of information gathering method employed, sources tapped and process used and then fails to tabulate the most basic information one might expect.

We are particularly concerned that proposed regulation changes that are so detrimental to the public’s rights to harvest fish for food are based on anecdotal reports from a few individuals. The proposed changes appear to be trying to predict and manage future fishing scenarios that may not even occur and in doing so are eroding our rights to harvest fish for food now, clearly unnecessarily.

This element of the submission will be covered more comprehensively when and if the need for more information is acknowledged by the Guardians and they choose to engage/explore additional data requirements.
Time constraints prevent further elaboration in this submission of this most fundamental view/criticism.

5.2.2 Defining “special nature”
The passion of the Guardians is to be acknowledged and applauded. They are privileged to enjoy a remarkably unspoilt environment. However, every one of us, in the big picture, share to varying degrees the privilege of occupying and enjoying the very “special nature” of New Zealand itself and the marine environment surrounding us.
Perhaps it is time we all took a leaf out of the Guardians book and focused on the “special nature” of our own regions, throughout New Zealand. Thankyou Guardians for a very well presented outline of your region. The document, as it describes Fiordland and many of its features, would make a first class text for all schools. There is much value in “Beneath the Reflections”.

5.3 The draft Integrated Management Strategy: Fisheries

5.3.1 Accumulation
Here we get an insight into the Guardians. Quick to point out that they see accumulation of daily bag limits as merely a “defence mechanism” contained within the Fisheries regulations as opposed to an existing right that we, the public, hold very dear and, by and large, treat with respect and care.

5.3.2 Why is accumulation detrimental? (3.6.4) – they ask.
The document states “The present accumulation regime encourages excessive harvesting of some species….” NO. The present accumulation right allows members of the public to accumulate fish from one day to the next, up to, but not exceeding those fish that they harvest on any one given day. The use of the words “encourages excessive harvesting” is totally inappropriate and out of place in a document that purports to reflect the truth of the public’s right to fish for food.

The right to accumulate daily seafood bag limits makes voyaging into places like Fiordland a worthwhile exercise for many New Zealanders who wish to see their families enjoy food from the sea. Is this practise, this cultural and social fabric of New Zealand, causing sustainability issues? If so, to what extent? The Guardians fail to offer any specifics at this juncture. The arguments put forward by the Guardians are centered entirely on assumption i.e. what we could do in theory in terms of maximum harvesting. The reality/practise however is quite different. Weather, fisher ability, freezer capacity, individual needs/attitudes and practises are all variables that combine to see fishers return to their homes with far less fish than what the Guardians would have us believe.

There is no mention of any of the very positive aspects of the right that allows us to accumulate what we catch from one day to the next i.e. the ability to feed our families or give a friend a feed of fish as a result of making the effort to harvest those fish. The incredible joy and satisfaction derived from harvesting, in a sustainable manner, seafood that is essentially off the menu for most New Zealanders who now find themselves competing with world markets for our crayfish, paua and hapuka. There is no argument; nothing comes cheaply from the sea. The sheer distance and time required to fish the abundant waters of Fiordland would make it seemingly the last region in New Zealand where accumulation would be so blatantly attacked. Lets be frank. The fishing industry desperately want to see the public of New Zealand capped in terms of how many fish they are allowed to eat. The less we catch and eat, the more there will be available to industry to export as and when our precious inshore shared fisheries make recovery from the boom and bust commercial fishing practises of the past. Just when some sanity appears to be returning to the management of our commercial fisheries, the boot goes in to the public’s right to fish for food for their families and friends.

The Guardians then go on to describe, in detail, a particular charter party’s behaviour. This is not balanced writing. There are no references to the excesses of the fishing industry anywhere in the document. No, lets just get stuck into the public again and paint them in the worst possible light.

There is no mention of the widespread practise of commercial fishermen giving fish to whomever they choose whenever they choose.

This proposal has the potential to eliminate overnight fishing for food voyages into Fiordland. We believe it is totally unreasonable to eliminate accumulation throughout Fiordland.

In summary, a particularly unbalanced and disappointing segment of the Guardians Strategy document.

5.3.2 Bag Limits
Bag limit changes outside the habitat line have little to justify any change to current take. Small regional population, remoteness and prevailing weather all offer natural barriers to excessive catch. Once again there is no science and in this case even anecdotal evidence that further restrictive recreational fishing measures are necessary. It is unacceptable that no reduction in the commercial take is deemed while the recreational take is severely slashed, particularly for multi day trips. Will the result just be better fishing for commercial operators, an increased commercial CPUE therefore an increase in proportion of quota caught in Fiordland? A reduction to recreational take outside the habitat lines is an unfair and unnecessary expectation for the public fisher to bear.

The split bag limits suggested by the guardians do not meet the criteria in Appendix 4 MFish compliance objectives and strategies that include:
• Understanding and accepting the rules as fair and necessary.
• Believe that rules are being administered fairly and equitably.
• There is a reasonable chance of any cheating being detected.
• There is a high probability of being successfully prosecuted or penalized.

The Guardians objectives state that they're trying to encourage a shift in harvesting pressure from inside the fiords to the entrances and outer coast.
option4 believes the document as written encourages people not to fish in Fiordland at all. The restriction on bag limits and non-accumulation discourages all fishing.

5.4 Process Equity
Our individual rights to harvest fish for food within the limits of sustainability are no less important than the fishing industries rights granted under the QMS to harvest fish to sell. Therefore we ask for the same decision making standards and process as demanded by and granted to the fishing industry before any changes to TAC’s or TACC’s are contemplated.
1. Robust scientific evidence of all factors pertaining to the proposal
2. Full consultation with all affected users
3. Involvement in the decision making process
All of the documents thus far have failed to deliver the necessary quality of information, consultation and involvement necessary for us to agree with the proposals made.

We need robust scientific projections that support the claims made in the documents produced to date that current or future levels of public fishing for food will affect sustainability.

5.5 Representation of the Recreational Fishing Sector on the Guardians
There are three people who are labelled “Recreational Fishing” in the Guardians group. We have not heard from them. They are not appointed by NZRFC or NZBGFC. Whilst they are free to describe themselves however they like, it cannot be said that they are representative of the public who fish for food if they have not adequately briefed and consulted with the organisations that are so obviously set up to do just that.

The NZRFC have been very visible for a very long time. The NZBGFC have solid club affiliations throughout the South Island. option4 have made no secret of their commitment and availability to helping to resolve the public “right to fish for food for family and friends” debate.

These organisations are not represented on the Guardians group. Nor can it be said that these organisations have been “involved” to date.

It cannot be said that “recreational fishers” have agreed to the proposed management measures as is claimed in section 3.7 – sadly, merely wishful thinking. Agreement to measures such as these will require far more meaningful consultation, completeness of information presented and respect for existing rights to be seriously considered

5.5.1 Consultation
The document itself is unique in that it is much more than a fisheries plan complete coastal management strategy for the region likes of which have not been introduced elsewhere in NZ. As with all new innovations being tested, caution should apply on implementation for unexpected and/or adverse results may occur that were not the intention of the Guardians or more importantly the very people who use Fiordland and coastal area the most, the locals.

In developing the draft document there has been a lack of wide consultation among the public.
In discussion with many fisherman, they have never heard of GOFF or the document under discussion.
The meeting at the Working Men's Club in Invercargill was not widely advertised. The SSFC had to make contact with GOFF and ask to attend.
The SSFC was not invited to the launch of the draft document, which is unusual as it’s the Southern most sport fishing club with Fiordland as its home waters. This typifies the lack of consultation that has taken place.

The process initiated by the Guardians to date does, in our opinion, represent “consultation
The section of the Strategy entitled “Implementing the Strategy” has as its Key Objective

  • “The negotiated package of measures contained in the strategy be implemented as a whole without compromising underlying principles and balances.”

It is interesting to consider this approach with what the Wellington Airport case says consultation should be.

An often-referenced New Zealand definition on effective consultation was contained in the Court of Appeal decision arising from the case between International Airport Ltd and Air New Zealand (CA 23/92, 73/92[1993] 1 NZLR 671). The relevant section of the decision is as follows:

‘Consultation must allow sufficient time, and a genuine effort must be made. It is a reality not a charade. To consult is not merely to tell or present. Nor, at the other extreme is it to agree. Consultation does not necessarily involve negotiation towards an agreement, although the latter not uncommonly can follow, as the tendency in consultation is to seek at least consensus. Consultation is an intermediate situation involving meaningful discussion. Despite its somewhat impromptu nature I cannot improve on the attempt at description, which I made in West Coast United Council v Prebble at p. 405:

‘Consulting involves the statement of a proposal not yet fully decided upon, listening to what others have to say, considering their responses and then deciding what will be done.’

Implicit in the concept is a requirement that the party consulted will be (or will be made) adequately informed so as to be able to make intelligent and useful responses. It is also implicit that the party obliged to consult, while quite entitled to have working plan in mind, must keep its mind open and be ready to change and even start afresh. Beyond that, there are no universal requirements as to form. Any matter of oral or written interchange which allows adequate expression and consideration of views will suffice. Nor is there any universal requirement as to duration. In some situations adequate consultation could take place in one telephone call. In other contexts it might require years of formal meetings. Generalities are not helpful.’


option4 thanks the Guardians for the opportunity to make these submissions, and looks forward to your reply. We have taken on this task in the full knowledge that the public are, to a large extent, oblivious to what you are proposing. The limited response from the public can be sheeted home to the limited efforts made by the Guardians to ensure the public are informed.

Obviously there is still much work to do.

  • Identifying any specific threats to sustainability is urgent and immediate.
  • Acknowledgement of the public’s right to fish for food and the process to further define that right that has been going on for four years is basic “good faith” and essential.
  • Establishing information requirements beyond the information offered in the Draft is very important.
  • Working on the specifics of likely future scenarios, rather than trying to deal with non-specific future scenarios will likely allow for proposal that have a chance of broad public acceptance and adoption.

option4 would not expect any recommendations to change any regulations until the concerns outlined in this document are addressed.

We would like to be included in any future correspondence and meeting notification.

We firmly believe that the Guardians have a responsibility to the people of New Zealand. To that end we would strongly recommend that you hold at least one meeting in both Wellington and Auckland to outline the basis for any recommendations that come about as a result of work done to date.

Yours faithfully
Scott Macindoe

“Beneath the Reflections” response coordinator
on behalf of the team and supporters of option4
PO Box 37 951

Acknowledgments: - Southern Sports Fishing Club, NZBGFC, NZRFC and the many, many option4 supporters who have contributed to this submission.