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Now and for the Future

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NZFN Update May 2003

Dear [ supporter ]

option4 update # 27

What does option4 stand for
Lets be very clear, option4 formed up quite spontaneously as a reaction to option's 1, 2 and 3 as proposed by the Soundings Public Consultation Document released in July 2000. By December 2000 over 61,000 members of the public and many, many clubs and national representative organisations such as New Zealand Big Game Fishing Council and Yachting NZ had either submitted in support or directly endorsed the Principles of option4 in their own submissions. What were, and are, those 4 Principles?

  • A priority right over commercial fishers for free access to a reasonable daily bag limit in legislation.
  • The ability to exclude commercial methods that deplete recreationally important areas.
  • The ability to devise plans to ensure future generations enjoy the same or better quality of rights while preventing fish conserved for this purpose being given to the commercial sector.
  • No licensing of amateur fishers.

What has been achieved?
Firstly, licensing has been ruled out as an option by this Government. Secondly, the proportional share approach promoted in option's 2 and 3 has been delayed. We say delayed, because there is a very strong desire on the part of both Ministry and the fishing industry to see you, the public, capped with a specific allocation, a quota if you like, that future generations of New Zealanders would have to learn to live with.

In December 2002, option4, NZBGFC and NZRFC signed off on a powerful letter of consensus that further emphasised the need to relentlessly pursue the Principles. Subsequently, representatives of those organisations have met 4 times with the Ministry in order to give more meaning and effect to the Principle. Progress has been good. It is great to see the Ministry engaging so fully in this debate and demonstrating a real willingness to listen and consider the wishes of the public. We would like to report back to you soon with tangible results of these discussions.

Marine Reserves
Meanwhile, the good work being done on the rights issue is being unceremoniously trampled by the Department of Conservation who are quite clearly not interested in good process. Their politically driven agenda of 10% of the coastline into "no fishing for ever" status, acting in contempt of the current legislation and misrepresenting the state of the marine environment leaves option4 in a position of no choice but to get stuck in and do what we can to stop this lunacy. Already, those online have received 3 Alerts that have provided extensive Background Information to 3 different "Proposal" type public consultations. These have resulted in an average of 450 submissions being sent in to each proposal, almost all of which have opposed and offered personal comment. Who knows whether or not the recipients will treat your submissions respectfully. Hhistory tells us that the agencies proposing have very predetermined outcomes in mind and find it hard to deal with opposition. Certainly the recently announced Te Matuku Marine Reserve at Waiheke received a lot of opposition - sadly all ignored. Only time will tell. Remember, these proposals option4 has engaged in have all been non-statutory phase. Iif the promoters are silly enough to go to Statutory Stage, ie an Application, we need to be ready to draw a line in the sand and STOP them in their tracks. 56,000 hectares on the East Coast of Great Barrier is the latest cab off the rank - outrageous. Next month we will have an Alert issued that will offer signifigant information and insight as to how trult arroganr this proposal is - blatantly stripping away the freedoms that define us as New Zealanders.

The Minister of Conservation seems only too willing to test the public to the limit. He is receiving increasingly clear messages from the public that ad hoc, uncoordinated Marine Reserves based on spurious and indefensible arguments will only meet with public opposition and, perhaps more importantly, low level respect and compliance. Marine reserves in the wrong place for the wrong reasons will only destroy the credibility of those who promote them, leading to an ultimate failure in their purpose - this includes both the Minister and the Departtment of Conservation.

The Local Government and Environment Select Committee are hearing submissions on the Marine Reserves Bill as we write this. Heaven help us if the Minister of Conservation is given the authority to declare Marine Reserves without concurrence from the Minister of Fisheries. Never forget - these marine reserves are supposedly forever. As fisheries management matures and we enjoy the benefits of stock rebuilds and overall abundance, as we are with many fisheries already, these most precious places will be off limits and out of bounds - madness.

Forest and Bird recently stated "Research is showing that marine reserves are an essential part of a sustainable marine management regime." What research. Possibly relevant in countries with unsophisticated management tools, open access type fisheries. Not relevant to our fisheries. It is

Database is everything
The option4 database is growing daily as people realise their right to fish for food is coming under increasing threat from so many different directions. These include ad hoc proposals for marine reserves, overfishing by the commercial sector and poor management decisions. By being in the option4 online database you receive information as it becomes available, on time and often before it has been in the press.

Information is power and option4 email supporters get the full story in the most effective manner possible. Use the online tool at to put your friends and family and those who you consider would be concerned, into the loop. For those who have already used the tool, well done. It is through your efforts that the public will stay on top of the fishing for food debate. Hopefully this debate will be wrapped up and our rights secured for future generations in the very near future.

Rights Reform Process - Reference Group Meetings
Ministry of Fisheries officials have been meeting with several of the option4 team, NZ Big Game Fishing Council (NZBGFC) and the NZ Recreational Fishing Council (NZRFC). The objective is to define what "priority" means when it comes to the publics right to fish for food. Progress is steady and another meeting is scheduled for this week. The priority option4 refer to includes the ability for fishers to have access to a reasonable daily bag limit within the recognised limitations of regulations and sustainability. option4 are sticking by the four principles and are hoping for a successful outcome. At least the Ministry are engaging in what seems like meaningful discussions. Will keep you informed as the process develops.

Tiritiri Matangi Reserve Proposal Update
The close off date for comments to NZ Underwater regarding their proposal for a marine reserve at the end of Whangaparaoa has now passed. Representatives from the Tiri Action Group, NZBGFC, option4 were present when over 6000 written submissions were passed to Peter Crabb from NZ Underwater. NZU have informed the Tiri Action Group that it will take around six months to review all the submissions including the online submissions that have come through the option4 website. NZU are keen to meet with all interested parties once they analysed the comments. They have also agreed to provide a copy of the budget for this project and also a timeline for future plans. We look forward to seeing the analysis of comments and an independent review of all submissions.

Great Barrier Reserve - Alert Coming Soon
While groups such as the Tiri Action Group and local iwi argue for a more coordinated approach to marine reserves another proposal has been put forward. This time for an area around Great Barrier Island which covers almost 53,000 hectares (that's 136 square nautical miles)! Where will it end? Where will we fish if the prime areas around our coast are taken up in marine reserves? Without a corresponding decrease in fishing effort the areas left for fishing will be under so much pressure it is likely these areas will suffer a huge decrease in fishing quality. Standby for more info. We will have an alert out to you in the next few weeks so you can respond online.

If you would like to have a look at the proposal go to Anyone wanting to get a copy of the discussion document and questionnaire should contact DOC Auckland Conservancy or Great Barrier Island Area Office. Community Relations Manager Warwick Murray on (09) 3074855 or Great Barrier Island Area Manager Dale Tawa (09) 4290065. The return date for questionnaires is June 30, 2003.


Regards from the team at option4

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