fish in the water
the option4 team
This article was originally
written for the NZ Spearo magazine November 2008 edition.
has joined forces with the New Zealand Big Game Fishing
Council and the mid north iwi fisheries forum, the Hokianga
Accord, to achieve abundant fisheries and a healthy marine
is good news for fishers, spearfishers and freedivers.
option4 is a diverse
group of fishing representatives from around Aotearoa who
rallied in mid-2000 to argue against the government’s
policy, which sought to confine every New Zealander’s
right to fish.
addition to limiting access to abundant fisheries, the bureaucrats
also proposed that fishermen be licenced, irrespective if
you were fishing for food or pleasure.
Unprecedented opposition to the three options in the Soundings
document provided fertile territory for an organised response.
||Advent of option4
developed four principles based on the fundamental right of
all New Zealanders to harvest quality kaimoana from the sea.
Project leader, Paul Barnes, and Scott Macindoe travelled
thousands of kilometres talking with fishing and dive clubs,
various groups and public meetings.
was given for option4’s principles:
1. A priority right over commercial fishers for free access
to a reasonable daily bag limit to be written into legislation.
2. The ability to exclude commercial methods that deplete
recreationally important areas.
3. 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
4. No licensing of recreational fishers.
By the end of the
Soundings submission deadline over 60,000 New Zealanders
had rejected the three options put forward - a record response
to a fisheries management proposal.
It was also a
warning to any aspiring fisheries Minister to avoid the
licencing issue if they wanted to maintain their credibility.
A website www.option4.co.nz
was initiated to act as a portal of hard-to-source information,
a contact point for all Kiwis who want to stay abreast of
the issues affecting their free access to saltwater fishing
and to allow people to provide their input on important
Monthly Updates provided regular news via email. These were
interspersed with occasional
Alerts to advise
of urgent developments requiring a speedy response.
Eight years later
a diverse range of people with an interest in abundant fisheries
and innovative ways to protect the marine environment are
still receiving the free e-news.
All spearfishers and freedivers are encouraged to register
and join the thousands already online.
Increasing public awareness about why and how our fisheries
have declined is a priority for option4. So too is offering
cost effective long-term solutions to rebuild our fisheries
to former abundance levels. In today’s environmentally
friendly world it makes no sense to kill so many juvenile
fish in the process of landing fish for export.
It is unfathomable why Kiwis are being denied access to healthy
fisheries in the pursuit of feeding the world with quality
How can a person dining in the finest European restaurant
have more right to eat New Zealand fish than a man standing
on the beach casting a line to catch a fish for his kids’
Thousands of Kiwis have also objected to the ongoing use of
industrial, bulk harvesting methods such as purse seining
to scoop up thousands of schools of kahawai for low value
use such as crayfish bait and fish meal.
Big Game Fishing Council
option4 and the NZ
Big Game Fishing Council have formed strong bonds. The
Council is the largest fishing representative organisation
Its 31,000 members
and 59 clubs span the country and are ably represented by
a management committee of fourteen and President Richard Baker.
earlier years the Council focussed on sportfishing and ensuring
ongoing access to the game species valued by their members.
In more recent times they have taken a broader interest in
the management of inshore species.
This is partly due to their changing membership, more mobile
fleet and the recognition that having a healthy marine environment
requires both commercial fishing to be constrained to sustainable
limits and meaningful marine protection.
the Kahawai Legal Challenge is the Council’s biggest
investment to date.
Challenge was initiated in 2005 and sought to clarify how
the Minister of Fisheries should be applying the law when
making management decisions for all fisheries, to achieve
the purpose of the Fisheries Act 1996.
purpose directs the Minister to manage fisheries sustainably
so all New Zealanders can provide for their social, economic
and cultural wellbeing. In part this means people having access
to sufficient numbers and quality of fish to put food on the
table, or enjoy while diving!
option4 and our largest iwi, Ngapuhi are fully supportive
of the Council’s commitment to the Challenge. Ngapuhi’s
Chairman, Raniera (Sonny) Tau, delivered a compelling affidavit
on behalf of their iwi in August 2005. In it he confirmed
that if a cut was required for a staple food such as kahawai,
that cut must come initially from the commercial sector.
While Maori are indelibly linked to commercial fishing through
the Treaty Settlement it is their non-commercial fishing interests
that gives rise to their ability feed their children and mokopuna/grandchildren.
Ngapuhi people would prefer to have food on the table than
have kahawai exported as pet food or crayfish bait.
four years of debate, discussion and twelve overnight hui
a strong relationship has developed between the option4 team,
the NZ Big Game Fishing Council and the non-commercial fishing
interests of mid north iwi, both Ngapuhi and Ngati Whatua.
All have a common goal of “more fish in the water/kia
maha atu nga ika ki roto i te wai”.
Non-commercial fishing, whether for Maori customary, recreational
or sustenance purposes relies on having enough fish available
in the places we normally fish.
achieve this we need:
- fisheries to be managed at abundance levels that allows
small fish to grow to adult size,
- rich diversity in the ecosystem protected from damaging
fishing practices, and
- sustainable use of fisheries by today’s generation
so fisheries will be healthy for future generations.
of our fisheries fall below these standards and have been
doing so for more than twenty years, despite the introduction
of the quota management system.
Most divers appreciate the value of having a ‘buddy’,
particularly when things go wrong. In recognising that Crown
agencies and commercial interests were not meeting our non-commercial
fishing and environmental interests, the Hokianga Accord is
a natural partnership.
Using the combined skills of the legal, fisheries management
and advocacy teams substantial submissions have been made
to both the Ministry of Fisheries and Department of Conservation
on numerous proposals.
If you want to be part of this growing community seeking more
fish in the water please go online and register
your details at www.option4.co.nz.
|If you value the work option4 is doing please
use the secure online facility available
here and invest in your fishing future.
to NZ Spearo Updates index here » » » »