This article was originally
published in the New Zealand Fishing News March 2005 edition.
Five years ago the
option4 lobby group formed in response to a controversial discussion
document on saltwater recreational fishing titled " Soundings
". Now in 2005, the option4 taskforce is still striving to
redefine the public's right to fish for food and determine what
our non-commercial interests are in the marine environment. Over
this time the affiliation of concerned New Zealand citizens and
fishing people has grown considerably.
was the Soundings document?
discussion document was the work of the Rights Working Group
(RWG) consisting of Ministry of Fisheries staff and members of the
NZ Recreational Fishing Council (NZRFC). The Rights Working Group
asked for submissions on the future management and rights of recreational
" Soundings " included three options for the public to
consider in regards to our future fishing rights. They were: -
- Discretionary share (status quo, the current system)
- Proportional share (a fixed share of the available fishery)
- Recreational management (proportional share and management control).
option4 believes that the
RWG, in the " Soundings" document, adopted a set of preconceived
and indefensible assumptions about the relationship New Zealanders
have with the sea surrounding our land, while omitting reference
to many important issues surrounding the pre-existing rights of
New Zealanders to fish and harvest the sea.
option4 was determined to
ensure all possible options for the future management of recreational
fishing were considered on their merits and debated as widely as
To carry the four principles
of option4 all the way through the rights redefinition process and
to have those principles enshrined in legislation.
- A priority right over commercial fishers for free access to
a reasonable daily bag limit to be written into legislation.
- The ability to exclude commercial methods that deplete recreationally
- 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.
- No licensing of recreational fishers.
option4 compiled a submission,
sought input and support through widespread debate, the website,
articles and interviews in the media.
option4 achieved a staggering
level of consensus on public harvesting rights in the marine environment.
Of the 62,117 submissions made during the " Soundings"
process 61,178 (98.5%) supported the objective and four principles
of option4 contained in the submission.
This was an unprecedented response to a fisheries management
In addition to the original
" Soundings" submission, we have generated many submissions
on specific fisheries management issues. Each of these submissions
has sought to achieve consensus and a maximum of discussion/debate
in the typically short time frames allowed for by the Ministry of
Fisheries. We will continue to involve the public in the process
of responding to issues affecting non-commercial fishers in New
Submissions from option4
and others can be found online at Fisheries
Management along with a unique record of the process that arrived
at the final decisions. It is this functionality and value that
option4 has invested so heavily in. option4 has made submissions
on proposals for many species including snapper, paua, tarakihi,
kingfish, kahawai and more recently rig. Our current focus is on
the kahawai decision from the Minister of Fisheries.
option4 has become involved
in the marine protection debate to try and provide a balance of
information. Some specific marine reserve proposals or applications
have been "dissected and rebutted" here.
We have assembled as complete
a record as possible and invited people, by way of Alerts, to consider
making individual submissions to the proposals. Volkner Rocks, Tiritiri
Matangi, Auckland's West Coast, Fiordland and Great Barrier Island
were online Alerts 1 to 5.
Several thousand individual
submissions later sees a remarkable majority thinking as one in
their opposition to the piecemeal ad hoc approach to marine protection
being promoted by the Department of Conservation. If ever there
was a time to explore the nature and extent of Maori customary management,
now is the hour. DoC's consultation style is not how we wish to
interact with you. We are in a strong position to learn from others
option4's focus has been
on the issues and how best to get those issues out to as many people
as possible. We have developed the following functions to achieve
We have invested heavily
in several aspects of internet.
- Record of process. Critical to any engagement is a willingness
to report and record. There are in excess of 5000 pages of record
uploaded to the site with at least 1000 more pages to be uploaded
over the next 12 months.
- Communication. There have been so many issues to deal with,
so many people to consult, so little time and no money to achieve
traditional face-to-face type deliberations. The all important
consensus positions achieved have only been possible thanks to
extensive use of email as a communication medium.
- Database. The ability to communicate regularly with our growing
database and provide opportunities for you to respond has proved
to be a goldmine. The integrity of the option4 database has never
been compromised or sold to any other entity.
- Online submissions. Each Alert has been a step forward from
the last. Essentially these consist of providing good, comprehensive
information to you online and then offering an online submission
making-tool that allows you to have your say. Alert
# 6 on kahawai saw more than 2000 people take advantage of
this "functionality" – unprecedented.
A major achievement has been
the ability to provide you with regular Updates (52 to date) through
the option4 website and other media on matters relating to accessing
our marine environment.
We tend to discuss the "matters
of the moment" in an uncompromising and blunt manner. We are very
frank and do not seek to be diplomatic. Where the Ministry of Fisheries
and Department of Conservation have failed, option4 have succeeded
in providing you with the detail required to make an informed choice.
With funding so scarce, attendance
at these meetings is carefully rationed. We are there at pelagic,
snapper and some research planning work. The lack of non-commercial
attendance at other meetings is of real concern.
Meetings with Minister
2001 – After " Soundings"
the Minister, Pete Hodgson, established a Ministerial
Consultative Group. option4 representatives were present at all
2002 - Election year, no
2003 - The Reference Group
worked tirelessly throughout the year. Again, option4 attended all
2004 - New Minister. No meetings
Donations from the public
have been the backbone to date. These donations fluctuate with issues
– no issues equals little money – however there has
never been a shortage of issues to deal with.
Backing up is a handful of
individuals who will not allow the lack of money to be an excuse
to not deliver on key roles and issues. They have indicated ongoing
option4 make it easy for you to stay informed and participate in
fishery management issues. Simply register
online at and you will receive regular monthly Updates. Don't
leave it to others because your views and participation is important.
Get online, register, make
a donation and make a difference.