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Summary and Background Information
A brief summary of the proposal and the impact it will have on your rights to go fishing to feed your families and friends. Additional background information has been compiled at the foot of this page.

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.

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 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 into legislation”
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.

Background Information
The Guardians have established a site well worth visiting http://www.fiordland-guardians.org.nz/
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

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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.