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Letter to Minister Oct 2000

Letter to Minister of Fisheries


20 October 2000

Paul Barnes


The Honourable Pete Hodgson
Minister of Fisheries
Parliament Building

Dear Minister,
I am writing to you on behalf of the option4 task force with several requests for information which we believe are central to any debate on the public rights to harvest seafood in the marine environment.

Background on option4
option4 is a task force which has formed to respond to the call for submissions and public input regarding the recently released Soundings document. The option4 groups' membership includes individuals with extensive recreational fisheries management expertise. Already option4 is aware of over 50,000 individuals, from throughout the country, whose  submissions are based on the same four principles developed by the option4 group.

option4 is determined to ensure all possible options for the future management of recreational fishing are considered on their merits and are debated as widely as possible.  

To this end option4 has invested into a website. This site allows option4 to provide a fully transparent forum in which anyone with access to a computer can present their views and have them considered. The full minutes of all option4 meetings are also posted on this website. It is evident that this website will provide a powerful debating forum throughout the Rights Working Group deliberations.

Debate is also being promoted through articles in the fishing media with the effect of generating considerable awareness among the fishing public. Several articles will soon appear in the wider press in an attempt to inform the large number of the public who are as yet unaware of the proposed redefinition of the public rights to harvest in the marine environment.

option4 has also fielded representatives at the following public consultation meetings:
Kaitaia, Warkworth, Takapuna, Papatoetoe, Hamilton, Whakatane, Tauranga, Rotorua, Thames, Gisborne, Big Game Fishing Council AGM, New Plymouth, Te Atatu, Outboard Boating Club (two meetings), Matamata, and Pukekohe. We will also be providing representatives to attend the coming public meetings at Orewa, Sandspit, Dargaville, Blenheim, Nelson and NZAKA executive.

The following clubs and associations have already expressed full support for the principles represented by option4:
Big Game Fishing Council
Tauranga Commercial Travellers Club
Kaituna Fishing Club
Stokes Valley Cosmopolitan Club fishing adjunct
North Taranaki Power Boat Club
Opotiki Surf Fishing Club
Waikanae Boating Club & Volunteer Coastguard Inc.
Wanganui East Club fishing adjunct
Paraparaumu Pac n Save Fishing Club
Pirongia Angling & Diving Club
Taramakau Chartered Fishing Club
Kaukapakapa Fishing Club
Otaki Fishing Club
Huntly and District Workingmens Club fishing adjunct
N.Z. Kitefishers Association
Clarks Beach Fishing Club
Bethells Casters and Angling Club
Hells Anglers
Marlborough RSA Club Inc. RSA fishing section
Kaiaua Boating Club
Titahi Bay Fishermans Club
Raglan Club fishing adjunct

Dear Minister, as a representative of option4.co.nz I am writing to you seeking clarification on the National Policy for Marine Recreational Fisheries, that was implemented by the previous Labour Government's Minister of Fisheries (Colin Moyle) in June 1989

The first national objective of the 1989 Policy states:

   "To ensure that recreational users have access to a reasonable share of fishing resources. This recognises the benefits of maintaining recreational fisheries by means of an allocation to recreational users. For most fisheries this will be achieved by setting a limit on the total commercial catch. Preference will be given to non-commercial fisheries in areas readily accessible to and popular with the public, where a species is not sufficiently abundant in support of both non-commercial and commercial fishing."

The then Minister emphasised the Labour Governments' support for the recreational fishers priority in the foreword to the Policy entitled "A message from the Minister of Fisheries."

   "The cornerstone of the Policy is presented in the first national objective: To ensure that recreational users have access to a reasonable share of fishing resources. Government's position is clear, where a species of fish is not sufficiently abundant to support both commercial and non-commercial fishing, preference will be given to non-commercial fishing. This position reflects Government's resolve to ensure all New Zealanders can enjoy and benefit from our fisheries."

In the Soundings document this policy was not even alluded to. option4.co.nz. is unaware of any consultation or decision to revoke the 1989 Policy.  We therefore understand that the National Policy on Marine Recreational Fishing remains as the current governments' policy on recreational fishing.

Although the Soundings document canvasses the priority issue the emphasis is not on a definitive priority right, but on a conditional right. For example, page 21 of the Soundings document states;

   "Recreational priority over commercial : Many recreational fishers strongly desire recreational priority over commercial in highly desired recreational stocks so that the quality of recreational fishing keeps pace with population growth."

   "With priority, the recreational share would increase at the expense of the commercial share if recreational harvest increased. Priority could be implemented by way of a formula linked to regional population growth and tourist numbers. Recreational priority could apply in key recreational stocks when there is insufficient abundance to meet non-commercial needs."

A priority proposal would affect commercial rights. Significant erosion of commercial property rights would result in compensation claims and court cases, and put the delivery of the Crown's obligations to Maori under the Deed of Settlement at risk, not to mention worsening relationships.

This means government may need to consider buying quota. The issue becomes how it should be paid for. Government might question why taxpayers should fund an activity undertaken by 25 per cent of the population. However, some government funding might be provided if there looked to be overall economic benefits for the nation in allocating more of a particular stock to recreational fishers.

Given the competing demands on government funding, if a priority system was agreed to it would have to be limited to a small number of stocks, (unless some funding is also contributed from recreational fishers. see option 3).

It may be possible to establish a combination of proportional and priority shares; with proportional share with commercial in some fishstocks, and priority for recreational in other fishstocks."

These statements do not indicate the current government's commitment to the intent of the National Policy for Marine Recreational Fisheries. For example, the opening paragraph states that recreational fishers strongly desire recreational priority over commercial, but there is no statement of government commitment to strongly desire recreational priority over commercial. We realise government must meet the obligations to Maori under the deed of settlement, but there should also have been a statement that government must meet the obligations to Recreational fishers as well.

We would appreciate your comment on whether or not the 1989 National Policy for Marine Recreational Fisheries is still effective, and in particular, that the preference provision for recreational fishers remains the current Government's policy.

If the Policy has been rescinded or amended could you please advise:

1. What were the events that led to this decision?

2. When and under what process was the policy rescinded or amended?

3. What was the rationale for revoking the Policy? and

4. What was the process undertaken to consult with recreational fishers
before the decision was made?

We appreciate you have a busy portfolio of responsibilities. We hope to receive your reply before the closing date for submissions, and look forward to your advice with interest.

Yours sincerely

Paul Barnes
Project Leader



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