This is a media release from Ken Catt, convenor of the West Coast Working Group released 13th May 2003
West Coast Marine Park
At all four meetings to discuss this project a pressure group of recreational fishermen from the option4 organisation have dominated the meeting. At all meetings the same people appear, ask the same questions and get the same answers. We have had complaints from local residents that well over half those attending were not local residents and that they were unable to get into the hall or state their views.
option4 are a group who are demanding that more of the fish resources are devoted to recreational fishermen, which they are quite entitled to do. However as there may be a certain distrust that such a group have an interest in improving coastal protection members of their team are setting up conservation organisations such WAAG ( West Auckland Action Group?) and Sand and Sea. It should also be realised that recreational fishing is a relatively small part of the activities that the public undertake along the West Coast. We have no intention of stopping recreational line fishing but must consider the views of the 90% of coast users that do not fall into this group. A survey carried out at the “ Go Wild” exhibition visited by many people from around the region showed visitor activity as walking 27%, swimming 20%, picnics 15%, boating 10%, recreational fishing 9%, snorkelling/ diving 7%, surfing 6%, shellfish gathering 4%, surf lifesaving 2%.
Our working group has no intention of acting upon the wishes of pressure groups that do not represent the full cross section of the population. Our decision to progress the matter further will be democratically based upon the submissions and questionnaires we receive. We have already advised option4 that we will accept their replies on disc and are happy to allow an independent audit of the results. Although a number of our working group are strongly opposed to extending the two month deadline for questionnaires, which follows some two years of discussion with around 80 key stakeholders, we will move the deadline back to the end of June. Late submissions and questionnaires will also be considered. Only if the wider general public vote against the proposal will it be abandoned. We have suggested to option4 that it might be more productive to meet and see if we can work together to improve coastal protection.