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Peter Ellery responds to option4.co.nz - 11 September 2000


As I read "option4 - The Answer", on your website, I am struck by the unnecessarily alarmist and confrontational overtones of it all and the complete lack of accommodation of any other points of view.

The Soundings document is no threat to anybody or anything, least of all, our recreational right. It is a Discussion Document the aim of which is, to ask us how we want to manage our recreational right into the future. It kicks 3 options out onto the field and says which one do you want to play with? or do you want to play with your ball? if so, what shape is yours?

It calls for option4 and 5 and 6 and however many more there are out there. We do not have to unite to defeat this document, we have to send in all the ideas that there are, on how we might protect and manage the recreational right into the future.

option4 is not the answer to all the issues raised in both Soundings and Paul's column, it is not even another option.
It is a statement of policy intent for implementing Option 3 from Soundings.

All of the objectives of option4 are contained in the Soundings document as issues needing input, as to how they should be resolved. option4 restates the issues without offering any proposals on how they might be resolved. option4 only becomes another option when it starts to propose the how, when, where, by whom, are the objectives going to be achieved and who's going to pay for it. To achieve the objectives of Options 3 and/or 4, we need to be capable stakeholders in the MFish management process. That means having representation at national and regional, research planning, stock assessment and TAC setting, in, shellfish, rock lobster, snapper, inshore and pelagic, working groups.

This is what the NZRFC currently endeavours to achieve, to the voluntary, underfunded best it can.

All options require recreational representation to achieve better representation of, and protection for, this very important right and share of the fish, than we are currently achieving.

  • That representation needs a regional to national structure,
  • that structure must have statutory status,
  • it must be able to be mandated by the fishing public,
  • it needs to be able to circulate the issues and proposals requiring decisions, and receive mandated opinions on management proposals,
  • and it clearly requires more resources than are currently available to the NZRFC.

option4 will start being an option when it makes proposals to achieve these requirements which are basic to any improvement in the recreational sector's position in our inshore fishery management process.

I urge caution on this "priority right" from the '89 Policy Statement. Ask any lawyer. It's only a partial priority. When any species is fished to such a low level as to be unable to support both commercial and recreational fishing, then recreational has a priority, it does not give a priority when fisheries are large enough to support both, then we have to share the fisheries. Most of our inshore fisheries are currently able to support both, but at what levels of share?

Soundings asks, how should the sharing be done?

option4 will start being an option when it makes proposals on how to achieve shared management with commercial in the shared fisheries.

I agree that commercial have a bit to learn in this field as well.

However I'd like to propose an alternative version of the shared management of the SNA1 fishery, one that runs a bit different to the one in the option4, Overview of the Soundings Document.

Let's say that;
Recreational and Commercial are 50/50 stakeholders in the SNA1 fishery.

At aproximately 60% of Bmsy, this fishery currently supports 4500t of commercial catch and aprox. 2600t of noncommercial catch. Total, 7100t.
At Bmsy it can support a 10,000t fishery. It is rebuilding and is projected to be at, or above, Bmsy by 2018.

  • Commercial stays at their 4500t until Bmsy is reached.
  • Recreational benefits by the rebuild until their catch reaches equal, at 4500t.
  • From then on, we share some ongoing rises in TAC as the rebuild carries on past Bmsy, to whatever level is decided to be optimum, to fulfill the management objectives of both sectors.
  • Each sector has to equally consider each other's objectives, because they are equal stakeholders.
  • As long as the recreational representation structure has a statutory status in the Fisheries Act, we can have an equal status for our right, as quota is for commercial

Under this version, no reduction in TACC, means no compensation, that's our taxpayer dollars we're talking about here.
We have nearly double the current fishery to grow into, this can go a long way in compensating us for catch history reductions and providing for growth of the sector harvest into the future. In the future, commercial will have to maximise the value of their catch including minimising wastage. There is increasing demand in their markets for environmentally sensitive product. They could have a boutique longline fishery that is shared equally with noncommercial, a very marketable product. We will work with each other because our equality as stakeholders is declared in the Act.
We could have the same 50/50 stakeholding in CRA2 where we currently catch 40% of the total harvest. Other fisheries could be worked out at different percentages, or we could simply be declared 50/50 stakeholders in every fishery that we share.
We should not be a minority stakeholder in any fishery that we share.
We don't need to discuss Orange Roughy, we don't catch them.

I agree totally that we want nothing to do with quota, individually or collectively. Anything to do with quota turns us into commercial fishers and we're noncommercial.

In seeking a format for the statutory structure that recreational representation requires to achieve the worthy goals of Option 3/4, I urge the directors of option4 to take a close look at the Fish & Game model as one that can be suitably "marinised" to provide what we require

  • Leaving aside licensing, which is their method of providing funding and a database.
  • I do not believe that the current Fish & Game structure should "take over" management of marine fishing.
  • Stripped to essentials, the Fish & Game structure is a statutory body, with clear lines of responsibility and accountability declared in an Act.
  • They have 12 regional councils, members are elected by postal ballot.
  • Each council is autonomous and self-funded.
  • Each provides one member and 10% funding levy to form a national council.
  • The national council is there to provide full backing for regional aspirations in management
  • Each utilises what funds it receives to achieve management goals within their area share of a fishery.
  • Each is accountable to both their members and to Parliament, via the Minister, on the use of their funding in achieving their management goals

Sure the management goals in freshwater are different to those in saltwater but it still comes down to using public funding to achieve the protection and enhancement of a public right in a public fishery. Same thing as we need in the saltwater fishery, only more so, because there are more competing demands on the fisheries.

So, as always, we arrive back at funding, yet another issue where option4 does not provide an answer,

I believe that there must be some crown funding. I believe that the recreational statutory body should be able form a partnership with the crown where each matches the other in funding. Currently the crown spends just over $4m on recreational management. If we can match that through self-funding, we can double the current amount of recreational research and compliance out there. We can be proactive in protecting and enhancing our right. If we can raise more than that, the crown matches us dollar for dollar.

How we achieve some self-funding can be left for further discussion at another time To be continued.

Peter Ellery
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