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Planning Right

The Third Principle - The Planning Right

Address given to the Hauraki Gulf Forum

17 September 2003


Address from Trish Rea, option4 spokesperson, to the Hauraki Gulf Forum

Conservation in Fisheries

Principle # 3 - A planning right

Today, we thought it appropriate to briefly discuss and explain what we mean when we talk about a “planning right”. The need for a planning right is the 3rd Principle developed during the Soundings public consultation process on Recreational fishing reform. The Principles have subsequently been fully endorsed by the major representative groups who seek to secure a strong right for the public who fish for food under the Amateur Fishing Regulations. This public includes Maori when not fishing for the purposes of their marae and exercising their very powerful customary fishing rights.

The planning right initially sought reads  - “The ability to devise plans to ensure future generations enjoy the same or better quality of rights while preventing fish conserved for recreational use being given to the commercial sector”.

We strongly believe the non-commercial stakeholders need the right and ability to conserve fish for future generations. By this we mean “not catch them”, i.e. leave fish in the water in order to allow for and plan for inevitable population growth and the probable growth in the popularity of fishing for food. Certainly the high retail price of our preferred inshore fish species will encourage more and more people to provide for themselves at an affordable price.

The planning right we seek will see the fish conserved by the public retained in the water and made available to future generations, not allocated to the fishing industry as we saw last year in the infamous Snapper 2 allocation decision. We firmly believe that this right will also improve customary fishing opportunities.

More recently we have realised that the public also need a planning right to help in the management of inter tidal shellfisheries. It is obvious that the current management regime for public harvest of these shellfisheries is not working, especially in the metropolitan Auckland area. We see this mechanism as working well alongside the clearly recognised and legislated customary Maori fisheries management rights and mechanisms.

Much of the energy driving marine reserves at the moment stems from the perceived inability of the public to contribute to the management of fisheries. The removal of Section 86a from the Fisheries Act saw the removal of the right of the public to proactively contribute to the management of these fisheries. Certainly, the changes to the amateur bag limit regulations for shellfish have achieved little in the management of these most precious fisheries, especially in metropolitan Auckland.

To succeed, this aspect of the planning right to help manage the intertidal zone fisheries will require high level buy in and support from the public and would, of course, need to be implemented carefully in full consultation with tangata whenua. In the absence of this ability, there are many who see marine reserves as the only tool available.


Customary Maori management rights and mechanisms

The planning right would, in our opinion, be very complimentary to the Maori customary management rights and mechanisms recognised in the Deed of Settlement 1992 and legislated in the Fisheries Act. The emphasis of Maori customary management mechanisms is on area. We believe the planning right we envision has the potential to address entire fisheries as well as contribute to area specific issues in the intertidal zone in particular. Shifting the attitudes and expectations of the public en masse in both area and fishery is surely the holy grail of marine environment protection.


Uncertainty on the part of the Department of Conservation

We now learn from the Department of Conservation that they are not certain that all mataitai and taiapure (or examples of other tools) will qualify as adequately meeting marine biodiversity protection objectives” We don’t share the Department of Conservation’s uncertainty.

The New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy clearly states  (action 3.6a) - "develop and implement a strategy for establishing a network of areas that protect marine biodiversity, including marine reserves, world heritage sites, and other coastal and marine management tools such as mataitai and taiapure areas, marine area closures, seasonal closures and area closures to certain fishing methods."  

The Department of Conservation go on to say “The proposed approach is still being finalised, however it is likely that assessments would be made on a case by case basis to determine which examples of which tools adequately protect marine biodiversity and will therefore "count" towards the marine protected areas network.” It would be strange to think that some mataitai and taiapure may now not “count” towards marine protection.

option4, NZRFC and NZBGFC, amongst others, are convinced this planning right will go a long way to achieving marine protection and the conservation of fish stocks. We are so confident of this that we have spent the last three years trying to convince the Ministry of Fisheries that it is a very effective and equitable tool to include in the suite of fisheries management mechanisms.

We all accept the population is growing and there is no doubt this will lead to increased fishing pressure. If we can lead the public into a system where their planning right sees the next generation catered for, then not only will our marine environment be more productive, it will be healthier as well.

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