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option4 Update #6 April 2001

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Licensing off Menu
18 April 2001

Dear Subscribers

Licensing - obviously we have misunderstood the extent to which the public have linked this clumsy funding mechanism with the rights debate. At no point has licensing had anything to do with our right to fish. We were surprised at the number of fishers who stated that a change in fisheries management was required. The removal of licensing is just one of the issues needing to be addressed about future management. Licensing is OFF THE MENU.

This leaves the real issue still outstanding - the clear and unambiguous definition of where the public right to harvest seafood from the marine environment fits within the overall scheme of things. Maori Customary rights have been clearly defined. The Commercial sector have the Quota Management System. Soundings asked the public if they would be happy with the leftovers.

Where do we stand in relation to the fishing industry? As far as option4 is concerned, the public right follows immediately behind customary fishing rights and immediately ahead of commercial fishing rights as prescribed by the Quota Management System (QMS).

What stage are we at right now?
We have met with the Minister again. On 22/3/01 we had a very frank session where the need to establish the rights debate as a primary objective was thoroughly worked over.

Despite what appears to be an overwhelming workload (11 portfolios) the Minister appears to be fully engaging in this debate/issue. He has decided to put together a Ministerial Advisory Group reporting directly to him. This group is to be made up of representatives of the public/recreational fishing fraternity ONLY.

Please visit the option4 web site to read the complete minutes of that meeting

We have subsequently written to the Minister on 2.4.01. Essentially we are keen to participate and give our all to this initiative of the Minister if, and only if, the terms of reference for the group are to determine ways to define the right.

The following extract from our letter to the Minister illustrates our position.

"option4 is keen to become involved in balanced, well-focused discussions. To that end we discount the findings of both the Independent Review Consultants and the subsequent recommendations from the (now disbanded) Rights Working Group because it is clear that their statistical analyses have not weighed the response from the public accurately, and their recommendations have not promoted the need for recreational fishers rights to be a clear priority.

Definition of the right of the public to harvest seafood from the marine environment is, in our opinion, the essential first step if we are to know what we will protecting and managing. Previous proposals by successive administrations have failed because they neglected that step. The public rejected the Soundings process for the same reason: although it purports to deal with the definition of public rights, it is really about management and structure. Hence option4.

Regardless of how we got here, we are now in a position to move forward on the real issue and your Ministerial Advisory Group could well be the ideal vehicle to achieve it. All that remains to be done is to give clear, unambiguous terms of reference to empower the Group to thoroughly debate the nature and extent of the public's right to harvest seafood. Progress will not be made if we are limited to thrashing out management issues.

option4's mandate is presently constrained to issues contained in its submission. If the Ministerial Advisory Group's findings are significantly different from the position outlined in option4's submission, it will be essential to have a further round of public consultation prior to implementing any recommendations"

Please visit the site to read the Proposed Terms of Reference

We can expect a response any day. Cross your fingers.

A big thankyou

To Chester's Plumbing Supplies and the participants in their Fanatical Fisho's contest for their very real support.

Also, Bill Cooke was privileged to take receipt of a substantial contribution from the Northland Amateur Fishers Association on 31st March. Thank you Northland Amateur Fishers Association for your substantial contribution. There is so much at stake here and it is gratifying to see you people acting so clearly.

Finally, please take the time to visit the excellent site at www.fishing.net.nz.

Peter Francis, the manager of this site has been of real support to option4 from the beginning. If you take the time to really drill into this site you will be well rewarded with a vast amount of useful information. Please consider registering for the VIP services available - really worthwhile. www.fishing.net.nz/vip/register.cfm. This will allow them to keep you up to date with regular emails of developments and other industry issues, as well as fishing reports from your specific area.

Best regards
The team at option4

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