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option4 Update #10 Oct 2001

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Ministerial Consultative Group Update
11 October 2001

Dear [ subscriber ]

The Ministerial Consultative Group has had its 3rd and final meeting. The Soundings process and MCG group is now finished. The Minister will report back to Cabinet and recommend NO CHANGES be made at the present time and in doing so will formally close the process. A new group will be formed to continue the debate over the next couple of months. option4 and NZBGFC agreed to this approach.

At that meeting option4 expressed the opinion that the Minister has a responsibility to ensure the recreational/sustenance fishing right is not diminished. As the recreational/sustenance catch varies the Minister should allow for these changes in determining the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) and the recreational/sustenance fishery bag limits.

Under Section 21 (a) of the 1996 Fisheries Act the Minister shall allow for recreational fishing. We understand the phrase ‘shall allow’ is critical in defining the Minister’s responsibility. Shall in the Fisheries Act has the same meaning as must, and allow implies a requirement to fulfil the recreational/sustenance right in full. By comparison, to make an allowance implies less than full provision for the right.

We wish to see our common law right recognised, protected and strengthened, to ensure we have a priority right over the commercial sector. In this regard we are unsure whether the suggestion of specifying specific conditions to be met is the most appropriate mechanism to protect our right.

We have sought legal advice and participated in a “legal summit meeting”. It would appear that the use of specific criteria might undermine the common law right. We understand the strength of the right currently lies in its general nature, and specifying conditions under which it will operate is likely to weaken that right.

option4 appreciates the genuine intent of the Minister of Fisheries, Pete Hodgson, to address the recreational rights issue.

option4 remains strongly committed to further consultation and participating in helping to better define the rights of the fishing public.

The Minister has told us on several occasions that he needs consensus. It is our belief that the “bar has been set too high” when measuring what is or what is not consensus. The Minister claims we do not have consensus amongst the recreational/sustenance fishing sector. The reality is that 98.5% of the people submitting to the Soundings process supported the principles of option4. The New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council adopted the principles of option4 at their AGM (14/7/01) just 6 days after the 2nd Meeting of the Ministerial Consultative Group phase of the process. The New Zealand Big Game Fishing Council endorsed those same principles at their AGM. In our book that passes any reasonable test of the meaning of the word consensus.

In Soundings the Ministry asked you how you wanted your fisheries managed. You overwhelmingly achieved consensus with the other public fishers who responded to the invitation to have your say. It is the Ministry and the fishing Industry who are not joining in with our consensus.

Hamilton Boat Show
The Boat Show went very well. It was good to see so many supporters come and introduce yourselves to our team. We had a good response from the public to our lucky dip. All donations were gratefully accepted and assist us to continue the fight for your rights.

Fishing Club Support
option4 are receiving great support from the fishing clubs we have made contact with. If we have not made contact with your club yet, please contact us at contact@option4.co.nz with your details and we will add your club to our database. If you would like an option4 representative to visit your club, please contact us. Remember to encourage your fishing club mates and others to register their support at https://option4.co.nz/register.php or alternatively you can “Promote a Mate” at https://option4.co.nz/promote.php

Thank you to the following clubs – Te Puke Fish & Game, Counties Sport Fishing Club, Outboard Boating Club (Auckland) and Papakura RSA fishing section. option4 volunteers have enjoyed evenings with these clubs – really worthwhile for us to spend this time with the grass roots. Your generous financial and moral support makes this initiative worthwhile and sustainable. Thank you.

Next month – Summary of MCG process, a wrap up type paper of the Soundings process and some indications of option4’s next moves.

Scott Macindoe
Trish Rea

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