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option4 Update #16 May 2002

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Not the Reply We Were Hoping For
May 2002

Dear [ subscriber ]

On 11/3/02 we wrote

Dear Minister,
From our very first meeting you have emphasized the need to build trust between all the parties involved in the fisheries rights debate. The Cabinet Paper FIN (01) 216 is a betrayal of that trust. It contains half-truths, has omitted critical parts of the debate and continues to promote the proportional share agenda of the Ministry of Fisheries.

We have analysed the Cabinet paper FIN (01) 216 Recreational Fisheries Reform. We fail to see any genuine recognition of the views of 98.5% of submissions to "Soundings". Our response is attached for your information. It is not acceptable for the Ministry to ignore, misrepresent and downplay the public's right to gather food from the sea. Unless there is a genuine attempt to incorporate the views of he public in any future consultation process, we can only assume the Ministry's agenda is government policy. We understood from you and the Ministry that future discussion would be based on Moyle's Promise. This is obviously not so.

You have shown a willingness to engage with option4 and the public of New Zealand over their rights to fish. We need to get the rights issue debate and resolution back on track. You have previously stated to us that you would be prepared to come to Auckland and meet with us if there was a need to do so. We believe that the need for such a meeting is urgent and therefore seek an informal meeting with you before the 25th of March to have a free and frank dialogue. Yours faithfully, option4"

The Ministers response - dated 25/3/02

Dear option4
"I have read your correspondence regarding the Cabinet paper FIN (01) 216. I do not agree with every one of the points you make but I am not going to address the issues point by point. I wish to move on and not to dwell on the past so I do not think it would be constructive to re-litigate previous decisions. I am sure that your comments will form an interesting backdrop to the debate that will occur next year and this is where the focus should be now.

The Ministry is going to prepare a public discussion document with some recommended changes to the management regime and all stakeholders will get the opportunity to comment on it before I make my decisions. Until this time the focus is on ensuring that everyone is up to speed to contribute to an informed public debate. Unfortunately due to a large number of demands on my time I am unable to meet with you in the near future.

Yours sincerely
Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Fisheries"

So on it goes…………
Obviously the Minister is not interested in the feedback offered by option4. Are you? Go here to read "option4 Response to the Cabinet Paper"

For 20 months option4 has worked hard within the prescribed process. As far as option4 is concerned, this delay and change of focus from rights definition to changes to management regime is not acceptable.

The Minster states that he is not interested in discussing the past, nor does not want to meet with us, he just wants to move on with "changes to the management regime". How can we effectively discuss "changes to the management regime" until we know what rights we have?

The Soundings process was supposed to be about defining both the relationship between the rights of the public sector and Maori customary fishing rights, as well as defining the relationship between public and commercial fishing rights. option4 do not consider this process has been completed, and now the Minister wants to put the debate off until next year, after the election.

Political or legal?
At this stage no political party has made a clear statement regards your rights to fish. Incredible! In the absence of a clearly defined right it seems inevitable that we will find ourselves challenging decisions made, through the courts. We will require substantial funding to succeed. We cannot be definite yet as to the nature of the case that will need to be heard to break this deadlock. Will it be the allocation decisions that the Minister will have to make on one or more of our precious shared inshore fisheries? Will it be the absurd proposition to introduce into the Quota Management System species such as Kingfish (scheduled for 1/10/03), wild Greenshell Mussels (1/4/2004) or Kahawai (1/10/2004)?

To head off into "Management Reform" without first defining the right appears to be a futile exercise. Please continue to send your letters and financial support. The fund established to mount a legal challenge, should it be needed, continues to grow.

Thank you for the passion and generosity of your ongoing support

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