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 recommendations. However,
whilst they have toiled to do the best for their people and
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 found so challenging.
The following summary attempts to outline how we see the Guardians
work synchronising (or not, as the case may be) with the rights
definition work that has come so far.
All or nothing.
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” They 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 ( you, the public) is giving so much and
other sectors so little, this is not a good place to go in
consultation process, never mind negotiation.
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 fear 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.
Accumulation – Section 3.6.4
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.
Then, straight into the main point of the Strategy document,
the heading - “Why is accumulation detrimental”?
At least they don’t beat about the bush.
The right to accumulate daily seafood bag limits makes voyaging
into places like Fiordland a worthwhile exercise for 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?
There is no mention of any of the very positive aspects of
accumulation, 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 as we find
ourselves competing with world markets for our crayfish, paua
and hapuka. There is no argument; nothing comes easily 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 we are able to consume. The less we catch the more
there will be 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 returns to our commercial
fisheries management, the boot goes in to the public right.
The Guardians then go on to describe, in detail, a particular
charter party’s behaviour. This is not balanced writing.
Of course 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 make sure they don’t think
they have a right to any of the fish the QMS call commercial
fish. There is no mention of the widespread practise of commercial
fishermen giving fish to whomever they choose.
In summary, a particularly unbalanced and disappointing segment
of the Guardians Strategy document.
Representation of the Recreational
Fishing Public 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, they cannot
say that they are representative of the Recreational Fishing
public 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 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. 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.
Recognition of rights.
The Guardians fail to recognise the rights of the public as
shaped and determined by regulation over many years. They
make reference to the rights as defined by statute of industry
and Maori. At least they acknowledge that the rights of both
public and environmental interests have not yet been clearly
defined. In an algebraic sense the uncertainty surrounding
some elements of the whole would cast uncertainty over the
other rights as well. Until such time as the public’s
rights to fish their fisheries has been defined clearly, it
would seem inappropriate to charge ahead and trample on those
same rights. There is no mention of the Soundings public consultation
process.. This has been high profile and highly relevant to
all of these management proposals from the Guardians for 2
years. “Proportional share” ideology has been
soundly rejected. The public have spoken loud and clear –
“A priority right over commercial fishers for
free access to a reasonable daily bag-limit to be written
There is no reference to this most obvious and clear public
demand. These management proposals cut right across the process
that the Minister of Fisheries and his Ministry are so committed
to. There is no “good faith” in these proposals
in terms of the wider picture of rights debate and/or timeliness.
The Guardians have established a site well worth visiting
Here you can download the strategy documents, maps and contact
the Guardians directly.
The Southern Sports Fishing Club submission to the Guardians
proposals may be found here www.option4.co.nz/goffssfcsubmission.htm
you want your opinions to be taken into account please
As soon as the submission from NZRFC, NZBGFC and option4
is complete, it will be posted here. As outcomes of the Guardians
consultation process emerge, they will be posted to this site
and will be able to be found here.