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7th May, 2003

option4 write to the Minister regards his upcoming allocation decisions for Kingfish as it enters the QMS

Minister of Fisheries
Mr Pete Hodgson
Parliament Buildings

Dear Minister

Last month we received your letter stating your decision to put some shellfish species into the QMS on the 1st of April 2004. This reminded us that soon you will be thinking about proposals for setting the TAC, TACC, Maori and recreational allowances for kingfish.

We know the Ministry of Fisheries will be working on the “Initial Position Paper” (IPP) outlining their proposals for consultation on the kingfish catch levels so the catch levels can be set in time for the start of the next fishing season on October 1, 2003.

We are concerned the Ministry of Fisheries will favour the commercial sector as they did in their SNA2 recommendations last year.

The 2002 SNA2 recommendations were probably the worst example of the Ministry’s bias we have ever seen. We still believe SNA2 should be reviewed again and the TACC decreased to take into account the fact that your Ministry chose to ignore the recreational catch results from the 2000 recreational fishing diary survey in their IPP recommendations to you.

One good outcome from the SNA2 process was that you showed yourself to be immune to the flawed advice provided by your ministry. You were independent and this was reinforced in your “preliminary views” letter last year where you proposed an option quite different to the Ministry’s’ recommendations.

You have clearly been able to disassociate yourself from the interests of the commercial sector in the past and we ask you do the same with the kingfish allocation process

Based on our previous experience with the Ministry of Fisheries we believe they will be considering proposals for the catch levels for kingfish close to the status quo, or with a slight catch decrease. The purpose of this letter is to ask you to again be independent and consider catch level proposals much less than the Ministry’s. The TAC and TACC setting part of the 1996 Fisheries Act provides you, as the decision maker, with a lot of discretion.

Specifically, for KIN1 we consider the TACC should be around 20-30 tonnes of kingfish – at about the amount of the true unavoidable by-catch from trawling. There simply should be no kingfish by-catch from set netting as there should be NO set netting on the reefs. The TACC for KIN2 should be near 10 tonnes. We will provide you with additional comments on kingfish and set netting when we make our submission in June-July.

Minister, the critical point we ask is that you state your own proposed options for the kingfish catch levels in your “preliminary views” letter to stakeholders when you comment on the Ministry’s proposals. We fear that if you do not, you may become locked in to only considering the Ministry’s proposals at the time that you have to make a decision - about August.

We apologise for labouring points that we know you will be well aware of. Kingfish is so very, very important to the recreational sector.

I remain
Yours faithfully

Paul Barnes
option4 spokesperson