– time to stand up and fight for a fair go
Kahawai are about to be introduced
into the Quota Management System. option4 have serious concerns
that once again the Ministry of Fisheries (MFish) is putting the
interests of commercial fishers above the rights of the public to
access this fishery.
If you think the kahawai
fishery is in bad shape now you will be outraged at the Ministry
of Fisheries latest proposal. Not only do the Ministry believe
there is no scarcity of kahawai, they also do not accept there is
conflict between commercial and non-commercial fishers in this fishery.
Why the Outrage?
option4, NZ Big Game Fishing
Council and NZ Recreational Fishing Council met with the Ministry
on Friday 2 April 2004, to discuss the introduction of kahawai into
the Quota Management System. We walked into the meeting feeling
we had extremely strong points to make. The Ministry made it clear
that as far as they are concerned –
- there is no scarcity of kahawai
- there are no problems caused by purse seine fishing
It is hard to believe the
sort of thinking that suggests that purse seining had been good
for this fishery.
It appears to us MFish are
going to write off our concerns about the decline in kahawai schools
as anecdotal. Why are they anecdote? Because the Ministry has not
conducted the science to prove one way or the other whether what
we are saying is true or not. This means that anecdote is all we
have. The reason for this is that the Ministry is either too tight-fisted
or too worried about the outcome if they go and investigate our
claims. We now have the Ministry openly declaring they do not believe
Even if they did believe
us, they –
- do not accept there is any scarcity of kahawai
- conveniently forget they had to massively reduce the commercial
catch limits in the 1990s out of concern for plummeting non commercial
catches and the disappearance of surface schools
- fail to admit the fishery has not rebuilt since the 1990s and
catch rates continue to decline, as has the size of the fish and
the number of schools
- do not accept there has been an adverse impact on seabirds,
kingfish and other dependant species.
If the Ministry won't listen
to and address our concerns then it is clearly becoming a political
decision. Our concerns are being ignored and put down as being in
the imaginations of the non-commercial fishers.
The kahawai fishery may eventually
be reduced to half of the current low level. If we allow this fishery
to be managed at maximum sustainable yield then a stock size of
20% the unfished stock will be their management target. The Ministry
proposal will allow the kahawai stocks to continue to fall by 60%
before these excessive quotas are reduced. This is totally unacceptable.
The purse seine catch history
will generate thousands of tonnes of quota developed through plundering
this fishery to the detriment of all other users. Recreational leaders
believe that using unsustainable target fishing as the basis for
allocating quota is unfair and unjust and they are demanding that
this catch history must not be used for allocating quota. It was
generated at the expense of the rights of other users.
The Ministry's proposal will
inevitably inflame the already high level of conflict between commercial
and non commercial fishers as the public witness the ongoing disappearance
of this fishery. Ministry fails to mention, let alone address, this
inevitable consequence of their proposal
Once quota is allocated there
is no agreed upon process for adjusting the non-commercial share
in the future. Allocation decisions made now will be the basis of
indefinite argument. We may well find ourselves stuck with what
we get today through this process.
- not talking about rebuilding the fishery
- not talking about leaving it where it currently is
- continuing to fish the stock down lower than it already is
- continuing to aggravate the conflict between non-commercial
and commercial fishers
- ignoring a highly valued recreational fishery by supporting
a low value purse seine fishery
- not meeting their obligations by omitting to not having an agreed
harvest strategy explaining their objectives for the kahawai fishery.
We get the strong impression
this is all about putting kahawai into the Quota Management System
and then letting the stakeholders fight it out downstream so the
Crown can -
- avoid allocation scandals such as we have seen with scampi
- escape compensation issues if it has over allocated to the commercial
- avoid having to make management decisions.
It is clear this is a contentious
issue. It would appear that the path of least resistance for the
Ministry is to add up current utilisation (what we are all catching)
and call that sustainable for expediency, regardless of the impact
on all non-commercial fishers. This will also leave us battling
with a $1.5 billion fishing industry for a greater non-commercial
share after they have been issued their excessive quota
Commercial fishers should
be able to land kahawai bycatch. It is the industrial fishing method
using spotter planes and purse seine vessels to target whole schools
that has done the damage. It is this method that should not be issued
Make no mistake; the proposal
as it stands will effectively steal the fish from the 1,000,000
non commercial fishers to prop up a handful of commercial fishing
companies who target kahawai; companies who think its better to
annihilate your kahawai to feed an Australian cat or a crayfish
than leave it alone and risk you catching it to feed your family.
Obviously the Ministry of Fisheries hold the same view
PLEASE, log on to Alert
# 6 and add your voice to a growing wave of public distaste
for the kahawai management proposals.
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donations. Please keep them coming.
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