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Open Letter to Pete Hodgson

Open Letter to Minister of Fisheries

from option4

13 May 2002


The Honourable Pete Hodgson
Minister of Fisheries
Parliament Building

Dear Minister

On 11/3/02 option4 wrote to you asking to meet and discuss the concerns we have with the Cabinet Paper FIN (01) 216. On 25/3/02 you replied, clearly stating that
(a) you "wish to move on, not dwell on the past nor re-litigate previous decisions" and
(b) you are "unable to meet with us in the near future".

We can only conclude that you have little desire to advance the discussion regards the rights of recreational and sustenance fishers in the near future. We are determined to see the issues raised in our response to your Cabinet Paper addressed. The approach we have taken to date has been to work within the process you have prescribed. Our participation to date has, in our opinion, been totally committed and of the highest calibre. Sadly, it appears you no longer wish to continue that process.

The Action Plan provided by Dylan James from MFish on 29/1/02, designed to "help stakeholders who participate to make their viewpoints known to the Ministry and subsequently to the Minister …… to improve the public consultation process" has obviously stalled. We have heard nothing since that date. The occasional papers and seminars promised have not materialised. This phase of public consultation is scheduled to be completed by July this year. At that stage the decision making process re-submerges with Ministry scheduled to advise you in order for you to report back to Cabinet with a recommended option for further public consultation by February 2003. Are we to conclude that there is no real desire to consult with the public in order to formulate that "recommended" option?

All of this is perplexing, given the Prime Minister's comments today that her Government is one that "listens to the people". You, sir, and your Ministry have demonstrated that you consider listening to the public is in fact unnecessary and of little value. It is becoming increasingly clear that the predetermined nature of the rights definition debate has no room for clearly articulated public input. Instead, the debate has degenerated into a piecemeal fisheries management reform discussion, clouded with innumerable side shows - regional management, charter boat information requirements, public catch profiling, aquaculture debates, Marine Reserve Act reviews etc.

There is a tangible and growing public disaffection with the curtailment of another process of government, the consultation phase of the fisheries rights debate. It is obviously not palatable to continue in an election year. That, however, is beside the point. Surely you do not expect the public to pretend to forget about this fundamental issue in order to allow political aspirations an uncluttered deck to be played out upon. There is nothing more certain than this debate taking its place on the election stage.

The overwhelming message we are receiving on a daily basis from the myriad of option4 supporters is to either form a political party, or offer guidance as to which political party, or parties, has a policy which includes a priority right for the recreational and sustenance fisher to their precious inshore-shared fisheries. It is clear, this issue has more than enough pulling power to command the votes of many people and those of their families and friends.

We will be writing to you, and the other political parties fisheries spokespeople again shortly, polling each party's position on a number of public fishing rights questions.

We remain
Yours faithfully

The team at option4


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