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NZ Fishing News Editorial February 2001

Candid Comment
Grant Dixon

Welcome to the February edition

Here's hoping you all managed to wet a line over the holidays. Fishing conditions alternated from brilliant to dismal where I spent my Christmas break - caravaning at the Waipu Cove Reserve holiday park.

After what had been a particularly hectic year with the merger of the two magazines, a number of overseas promotions and the Option4.co.nz campaign it proved a relaxing break.

It also provided an opportunity to get back in touch with the magazine's grass roots readership. In this job I am extremely lucky in that I get to enjoy on a regular basis fishing opportunities most readers either only dream about or experience once or twice a year. It is difficult not to think of my work fishing programme as not being 'the norm'.

This year with the family I spent a month at the Cove that was something of a reality check. Surrounding me were people who fished for the sheer joy of it, making every opportunity of their short holiday count.

Typical of this time of year, anglers had to work hard for their catches and just as typical, those who put in the best effort reaped the better rewards. The fishing mix at the camp is a wide one. There are surfcasters, kite fishers, flounder-netters, long liners and divers as well as the boaties whose craft range in size from small tinnies through to the latest seven-metre-plus trailer boats - a scene representative of holiday parks nation-wide. Over the month we had a ball, sharing each other's successes and 'failures' around the barbecue tables and over a few cold bevvies and a steak or two. It was also interesting getting feedback on what people wanted out of the magazine and fishing.

The magazine bit was simple - most sought entertainment as well as information as to the 'what,' 'where,' 'when' and 'how' of fishing. It was also apparent the Soundings document, despite its spluttering start, has galvanised recreational fishers into action. In my nearly eight years as editor of NZ Fishing News there has been nothing like it to spark non-commercial fishers into action or at the very least into thinking about their fishing future. In the Option4.co.nz update this month Fisheries Minister, Pete Hodgson, offers some thoughts on the process.

He also suggests I, and the magazine, have been 'painted into a corner' regarding the backing of an alternative to the three options offered in Soundings - simply Option Four.

Option4.co.nz did not have two years to put together its plan. It came as a response to Soundings and as time marched on it became patently obvious what the recreational fishers of New Zealand wanted and it was certainly not the quick fix being offered through the Soundings options.

I believe the Ministry was caught off-guard by Option4.co.nz - a group of strongly mandated, well organised and funded recreational fishers stepping up to mark - never!

There has been the odd bloody skirmish along the way with some casualties - welcome to the political arena. The NZ Recreational Fishing Council has taken a bit of a battering but I believe it will emerge stronger than ever as a result of it. Recreational fishers have only just realised they do need to get involved in politics and that they need strong representation at a national level to ensure they get a fair hearing.

The Minister's comments imply this magazine has not remained 'neutral' on the issue and he is in one sense correct. While I have never refused to publish material because it went against Option4.co.nz philosophies, it is true the magazine has backed the Option Four group and I am proud to say I have had a small part to play in its formation and working. The Minister makes one error in his comment when he calls the 60,000 plus submissions gathered by Option4.co.nz a 'petition'. Minister, may I respectfully point out each one of those is worded in such a way as to be an individual submission in its own right and should be treated as such.

I think, Minister, your department has found itself in a tight spot surrounded by converging walls with respect to its past performance. It is only your stated stance on not being able to be bought by any one sector that has given us recreational fishers any hope of an even playing field - let's hope it proves to be true. Certainly, recreational anglers will be waiting with bated breath over the Ministry's Soundings findings given the clear mandate offered by the public.

That's it from me, let's hope the weather settles and we get a late summer.

Tight lines

Grant Dixon

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