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option4 Soundings Submission

Soundings Submission - Part 1

option4 draft



This is how option4.co.nz is expressing the 4 Principles in its full submission. This is the result of many days work by a number of very experienced authors.

Contained in this document:
1. Introduction
2. Submission summary
3. The nature and extent of the public right to harvest seafood
4. The interface between Public Rights in the fishery and the Commercial sector, and the 3 options in "Soundings."
5. Management, Funding and Representation
6. Appendix 1 (Excerpts from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights' Fact Sheet No.16)
7. Appendix 2 (Quote from the Maastricht Guidelines on Violations of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)
8. Appendix 3 (Additional funding mechanisms)
9. Appendix 4 (Possible Regional Structure and funding for Recreational Fishers)

option4 Submission to Rights Working Group on Sounding

option4 Project Leader
Paul Barnes
18 Styca Place,
Glen Eden,
Ph/Fax 09 : 818-2146
email : kites@ihug.co.nz

Introduction to option4 and the Soundings Document
A rapidly growing affiliation of concerned New Zealand citizens and fishing people have created option4 in response to the Ministry of Fisheries' recently published document , in which the Ministry invites submissions from the public as to the rights of 'recreational fishers'.

option4 believes that the Ministry, in the Soundings document, has adopted a set of preconceived and indefensible assumptions about the relationship New Zealanders have with the seas surrounding their lands, whilst at the same time having omitted reference to many important issues surrounding the preexisting rights of New Zealanders to fish and harvest these seas.

The option4 submission seeks to place the real issues in perspective with the added force of reference to the international legal code as expounded and documented by the United Nations.

option4 is a task force which was 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.

Paul Barnes Grant Dixon
Peggy Barnes Diane O'Sullivan
Bill Cooke Sandra Goudie
Geoff Green Bob Burstall
Jeff Romeril Keith Ingram
Bill Ross John Chibnall
Scott Macindoe Ray Everson
Tony Orman Roy Arnold
Alan McMillan Dick Marquand
John Eichelsheim Mark Airey

Already option4 is aware of over 50,000 individuals from throughout the country whose submissions are based on the 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 developed a website. This site has allowed option4 to provide a transparent forum in which anyone with access to a computer can present their views and have them considered. The minutes of all option4 meetings are posted on this website. It is evident that this website has provided a powerful national debating forum throughout the Rights Working Group public consultations.

Widespread debate and consideration of the issues has also been promoted by option4 through articles in the public and fishing media throughout the country with the effect of generating considerable awareness among the fishing public who are as yet unaware of the proposed redefinition of the public rights to harvest in the marine environment. Extensive discussion on talkback radio has further raised awareness.

option4 has also fielded representatives and received overwhelming support at the following public consultation meetings:
Kaitaia, Warkworth, Takapuna, Papatoetoe, Hamilton, Whakatane, Tauranga, Rotorua, Thames, Gisborne, New Plymouth, Te Atatu, Outboard Boating Club (two meetings), Matamata, Pukekohe, Orewa, Sandspit, Dargaville, Blenheim, Nelson and NZ Angling and Casting Executive at their AGM held in Opotiki, Big Game Fishing Council AGM held in Gisborne, Maraetai Boating Club and Southland

The following clubs and associations have already expressed full support for the 4 principles as represented by option4:

NZ Big Game Fishing Council.
Marlborough Recreational Fishers' Assn.
NZ Boating Industries Association. (BIA)
Council of Outdoor Recreational Assns of NZ.(CORANZ)
Angling and Casting Club.
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.
Bream Bay Club Fishing Section
Nugget Point Recreational Fishing Club
Mount Maunganui Underwater Club.
Grandview Road Sportfishing Club Hamilton.
Bay of Islands Swordfish Club
Albertland Cruising Club
Bay of Whales Fishing Club
Golden years Fishing Club
HBC Boating Club
Kaukapakapa Anglers Club
Kaipara Cruising Club
Kowhai Lady Anglers
Rodney Fishing Club
Leigh Sport Fishing Club
Warkworth Game Fishing Club
Whangaparaoa Amateur Fishing Club
Kawau Bay Fishing Club
Otamatea Boating and Fishing Club

option4 has achieved a staggering level of consensus on public harvesting rights in the marine environment. In addition to the considerable expertise available within the core option4 team, option4's submission draws heavily on the hundreds of written submissions posted both on their website and mailed to the group, as well as the tens of thousands of supportive submissions made without comments attached. These submission comments will be available to the Rights Working Group.

Submissions in Favour of option4 Principles


CLUB NUMBERS 35,000 plus
TOTAL NUMBERS 87,000 plus

option4 Submission
The Soundings document proposes a series of options to address three fundamental aspects of managing the public harvest from the marine environment:

  1. The nature and extent of the public right to harvest seafood.
  2. The management structure to manage the newly defined public right.
  3. The funding mechanism required for the management structure.

option4 considers a sustainable healthy fishery is the overriding objective of managing any fishery. option4 is supportive of improved scientific research and a precautionary harvest strategy in the absence of robust scientific information. option4 also supports the implementation of effective monitoring and enforcement mechanisms to ensure safe harvest limits are not exceeded.

option4 considers it is inappropriate to attempt to simultaneously resolve the above three issues with only one round of public consultation. option4 seeks to have the public right determined first, this will form a transparent first step and only after the right is determined is it appropriate to hold public consultation regarding the management of that right. option4 along with the vast majority of those we have consulted with, are also deeply suspicious of hidden privatisation agendas surrounding the Soundings process. The grossly inadequate funding provided for public consultation on an activity which over one third of the population participates in, and which well over half of the population get seafood from, as a result of sharing the catch with family members, does nothing to allay our fears. The option4 submission deals with each of the three points separately. The major focus of this submission is on determining the right in the first instance.

option4 has designed a credible set of four principles upon which it believes the public's fishery rights must be built. These principles reflect the vast majority of public opinion about current perceptions of their rights and a refusal to accept the privatisation of any of these rights as promoted in Soundings:

  • That the priority of recreational fishers over commercial fishers be reinstated.
  • That recreational fishers have an area-right capable of excluding bulk commercial methods that deplete recreationally important areas.
  • A planning-right that would ensure any fish conserved for recreational fishers could not be taken by the commercial sector.
  • No licensing, levy or other compulsory funding scheme.

The area-right (option4) or recreational fishing zones (Soundings) have wide spread support. The question is, if these zones improve recreational catches, where will these fish come from in a fully developed fishery? Careful planning and some level of priority will be required for zones to be an effective management device.

The option4 concept of recreational and sustenance management plans are introduced in this submission where fish conserved under such plans can be set aside to provide for some, but not necessarily all, of the future needs of recreational and sustenance fishers. This planning approach can potentially minimise compensation issues for the crown and minimise the amount of quota the fishing industry will have to forego catching to allow for the future needs of the public.

Any planning right which cannot protect those fish conserved by recreational fishers for the future needs of recreational and sustenance fishers will offer no incentive to conserve and such planning processes will fail.

The type of co-operative planning suggested in the Soundings document is rejected because there is no guarantee or sound evidence that cooperative arrangements with the fishing industry can be formulated on all species.

In addition to the four principles already defined by option4, the National Policy for Marine Recreational Fisheries issued by the previous Labour Government's Minister of Fisheries (Colin Moyle) in June 1989 is also endorsed by option4. It is our belief that this policy remains the current National Policy on Marine Recreational Fishing in spite of its conspicuous absence from the Soundings Document. If the National Policy for Marine Recreational Fisheries has been revoked, we ask that it be reinstated as government policy forthwith.

The National Policy for Marine Recreational Fisheries objectives are as follows:

  1. To ensure recreational fishers have access to an adequate share of the fisheries resource
  2. To ensure that the recreational catch is shared equitably amongst recreational users
  3. To improve where possible the quality of recreational fishing
  4. To reduce conflict between commercial and non-commercial fishing.
  5. To improve participation by recreational users in the management of recreational fishing
  6. To improve public awareness and knowledge of the marine environment and the need to conserve the fisheries resources
  7. To develop a comprehensive information base on recreational fishing
  8. To improve management of recreational fishing
  9. To recognise and facilitate the potential contribution of marine resources to tourist.
  10. To recognise the dependence of some local communities to on the sea as a source of food in the management of both commercial and recreational fisheries.



The Nature and Extent Of The Public Right To Harvest Seafood
option4 believes that the Ministry, in the Soundings document, has adopted a set of preconceived and indefensible assumptions about the relationship New Zealanders have with the seas surrounding their lands, whilst at the same time having omitted reference to many important issues surrounding the preexisting rights of New Zealanders to fish and harvest these seas.

The following option4 document seeks to place the real issues in perspective with the added force of reference to the international legal code as expounded and documented by the United Nations.

Overview Of Public Rights To Harvest Seafood
A challenge was laid down to recreational fishers in July 1998 by the deputy chief executive of the Ministry of Fisheries. He said that recreational rights and access were being eroded and that "if we don't move to protect these rights - and improve them - that vital part of our culture will slowly be degraded."

He had his own views on how we might achieve this from a Ministry of Fisheries perspective. option4 is a group of experienced recreational fishers who have come up with a plan that really will protect the public's right to fish.

option4 have identified the problem. Managing a nation's commercial fisheries under a property-rights based system such as the New Zealand quota management system (QMS) can erode the food gathering, social, economic and customary rights of the wider community. Such erosion will occur when the commercial component of any fishery is so great that it hinders the existing rights of the people to have access to historical food gathering or harvesting or adversely affects other preexisting social, economic or customary rights.

The creation of individual transferable commercial fishing rights in perpetuity has been clearly identified as an erosion of preexisting Maori Traditional and Maori Commercial fishing rights.

Acknowledgment of the pre-existence of both Maori Traditional and Maori Commercial rights has since been given management effect through the customary provisions in the current Fisheries Act and the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992. However, the pre-existing rights of the remaining New Zealanders have not been well defined in law. An attempt to resolve and define these outstanding rights issues through the "Soundings" consultation process, which discusses recreational fishing rights, is underway. option4 believes many of the fundamental arguments that led to the successful implementation of priority Maori Traditional rights are exactly the same as those made by the fishing public.

Soundings ignores these rights in all three options it presents. Option 1 allows the continual erosion of these rights, Options 2 and 3 seek to privatise all noncommercial harvesting except for Traditional Maori fishing.

Any argument against public priority in the fishery is an argument in support of the privatisation of the fishery. It is an attempt to tell people how much seafood they can provide for themselves and how much of this public resource they will have to purchase from the commercial sector to fulfill their needs.

New Zealand has a small population base and a huge 200 mile economic zone. This zone produces far in excess of the seafood needs of the population. While a small amount of seafood is sold locally, most is exported. The public of New Zealand who wish to purchase their seafood, are tied to paying international market prices for it. Nothing in this submission will affect the ability of the fishing industry to supply fish to the public.

What is Meant by "Recreational Fishing" in Soundings?
Before debating "recreational" fishing rights, option4 has first attempted to determine what is meant by the term "recreational" fishing as used in the Soundings document and explored which other public rights may be affected in redefining noncommercial fishing rights.

The proposition in Soundings that these rights do not currently exist because they have not been defined, and the attempt in Soundings to place starting boundaries on these rights before they are defined, is considered by the option4 group to be seriously flawed. The statement on page 6 of the Soundings document, that "neither recreational nor commercial have priority over one another", along with the statement in the Joint Working Group's vision on page 4, that it is perceived as a "collective right" (i.e.: the right to fish) and therefore not an individual right, attempts to predetermine the outcome and limit the debate prior to defining the right.

Soundings is also unclear on what rights are being defined and what is meant by "recreational fishing". Is "recreational fishing" fishing for fun and sport, or is "recreational fishing" inclusive of every noncommercial harvest taken from the sea except the Maori Traditional harvest?

There are grave concerns among the wider community that, while Soundings debates "recreational" fishing, it is deficient in dealing with other components of the noncommercial harvest. e.g. food gathering and fishing for subsistence and sustenance purposes.

The importance of noncommercial fisheries to local communities along with the economic and social well-being that flows through to the wider public from noncommercial fishing, also appears to be largely ignored. Also ignored is the cultural importance of noncommercial fishing to a vast number of native born New Zealanders. The N.Z. Government must realise that "recreational fishing" is merely a component of a much wider range of existing public rights to harvest seafood from N.Z's. marine fisheries.

The portion of the public who have an interest in harvesting from the sea have become very aware that it is not just "recreational" fishing that is being debated, but the rights of the population at large to harvest from the sea, regardless of race or creed. In short, in many respects, it is a fundamental Human Rights issue.

International Law and New Zealand

The New Zealand Government is signatory to:
1.    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
2.    International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
3.    Maastricht Guidelines on Violations of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
4.    Limburg Principles

Accordingly, the N.Z. Government should take note of its obligations under these international agreements before modifying or limiting any pre-existing public rights to harvest from the marine environment.

Social, Economic and Cultural Factors Relating to the Rights of All New Zealanders to Fish
The option4 group considers the Soundings document is deficient in not considering the social, economic and cultural importance of non-commercial fishing activities to all New Zealanders.

The document mentions the existence of only three user groups, Commercial, Maori Traditional and Recreational. No mention is made of any other harvesting sector in the wider community or of any subsistence or sustenance harvesting.

If the term "recreational fishing" as used in Soundings is inclusive of all types of legitimate non-commercial harvesting in the marine environment (as stated on page 8 of Soundings) then the Government has certain obligations to consider.

On page 8 of Soundings recreational fishers are defined, "Recreational " fishers include many Maori who may be unable to fish under a customary permit, or who choose not to do so on occasions.

Recreational fishing occurs for a variety of reasons, including the challenge, getting away from it all in our marine environment, and for food.

A variety of methods are used, such as hook, line and sinker, scuba, pots and dredges. Recreational fishers may fish from the shore, from a private boat or pay to go fishing on a charter boat."

Soundings has omitted the following methods:
1. hand gathering of shell fish
2. diving for shell fish and crustacea without scuba
3. netting for flounder and mullet etc.
4. longlining for snapper and terakihi etc. from boat or shore.
5. drop lining for hapuku

We are surprised that these additional and well-established customary and traditional food gathering subsistence and sustenance methods, as well as others option4 may be unaware of, used by the general public since this country was first settled, and the many "Maori who may be unable to fish under a customary permit," are not included in the Soundings document.

In the opinion of option4 the failure of the Soundings document to make a distinction between different types of non-commercial harvesting must be corrected.

If the people harvesting fish or shellfish do so primarily or substantively for food, then the issue is not about recreational fishing, it is about the public right to gather seafood from a public resource for subsistence and sustenance purposes, to share that food with family and friends and, whether or not that right has priority over commercial use of that same resource. It is also about the existence of well-documented prior access to those resources forming the foundation of that right and the customary nature of prior access where that forms a part of the culture and tradition of the people.

It is about the right to food, the right to access one's food and to harvest food for subsistence and sustenance purposes. It is a core responsibility of Government not to interfere with these rights or enact legislation that allows others to interfere with those rights. Where the government has eroded these rights, it is also a core role of the government to undo that injustice.

These rights, customs and traditions are not based on race, religion, property or any other segregation of society.

We refer the reader to the following excerpts regarding the above issues:

See Appendix 1
for excerpts from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights' Fact Sheet No.16 (Rev.1),

See Appendix 2
Maastricht Guidelines on Violations of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Maastricht, 22-26 January 1997.

In the absence of any specific mention of these values, option4 has interpreted the word "recreational" fishing in the Soundings document to be inclusive of subsistence and sustenance fishing and gives consideration to economic, social and cultural values associated with the public's harvest of our marine fisheries. Sport fishing, big game fishing and recreational fishing are included.

option4 is certainly not claiming that all public harvesting is done for subsistence, sustenance or cultural reasons. The point is that public harvesting for these reasons clearly has priority over commercial harvesting rights, and if the creation of the rights-based QMS (Quota Management System) in the midst of these pre-existing rights has eroded or undermined such subsistence, sustenance or cultural rights, then it is clearly the Government's responsibility to undo, refine or modify such legislation to meet its international treaty and convention obligations. If the end use of the harvested seafood is used as a guide it will be found that an overwhelming majority of public harvest is taken for food.

Each successful non-commercial fisher will always share his catch with immediate family, and on occasions with extended family and possibly friends. All who receive benefits from amateur harvesting of seafood will be affected by any change in the way the public share of the fishery is defined. In excess of three million people are likely to be affected.

The obvious priority pertaining to some of the rights included in the term "recreational" fishing as used in the Soundings document raises several issues that the Soundings document has not attempted to address. option4 supporters want these rights addressed and protected in law.


Social Values
Many fishers fish for relaxation, the outdoor experience, getting away from it all, peace and quiet, etc. Campaigns like "Take a kid fishing" also give our young the opportunity to escape the Playstation, drugs and alcohol scene and enjoy a healthy outdoor activity. Health benefits accrue not only to those who share in eating the catch, but also from the outdoor exercise necessary to catch or harvest the seafood in the first place.

However indefinable, the pleasure and pride of achievement in being able to provide fresh seafood for the family table and the enjoyment of eating seafood caught by a family member, should not be underestimated. It is a fundamental part of the culture and custom associated with "recreational" fishing.

Many coastal communities dependent on inshore commercial fishing are now struggling to survive under the privatised quota system. Large corporate quota holders who control most of the quota, charge high quota lease fees and pay low prices to their fishermen for their catch. Because of the poor returns from harvesting fish, many experienced fishers are moving out of the industry often to be replaced by less experienced fishers or novices. This results in higher levels of wastage while these inexperienced fishers are learning how to avoid by-catch of species they do not hold quota for, and also causes high levels of juvenile fish mortality. This has an adverse effect on the community, other users and the fish stock and allows continued further erosion of noncommercial access despite the QMS.

Economic Values
Since the introduction of the QMS many people cannot afford to purchase their preferred species of fish from the fish shop as prices are inflated by around 30%. This 30% is the cost to the fisherman to lease the right to harvest the fish from a quota owner. With snapper retailing at up to $32/kg in metropolitan supermarkets catching or harvesting their own seafood is the only way many New Zealanders can still eat their preferred species.

Recreational fishing, and all it encompasses, creates a vast number of jobs throughout the economy. Many small communities rely fully on this economy, e.g. charter boats, bait sales, tackle stores, wholesalers, import/export traders, camping grounds and many other associated jobs. Many of these jobs are in regional economies that have been hard hit in the last 10 years.

Boat and fishing gear manufacturers often start out supplying recreational fishing vessels to local markets and then branch out to export their product.

Some local communities are, to a large degree, dependent on seasonal revenues generated either directly or indirectly by noncommercial fishing and the associated accommodation, travel, dining, charter vessels, souvenirs, tackle and bait sales, fuel and boat maintenance, electronics, restaurants, hotels/motels etc. e.g. Bay of Islands, Tutukaka, Tauranga, Whitianga, Coromandel, Northland etc.

A recent survey (conducted by) for the Ministry of Fisheries estimated the value of New Zealand recreational fisheries for five key species, snapper, kahawai, kingfish, blue cod and rock lobster. It was estimated that an annual recurrent expenditure of $973 million for these species occurred. Using regional multipliers, the value to the national economy would be two to three times higher. What is more these figures do not take account of capital expenditure into fishing equipment and boats.

Limiting or capping the non-commercial fishing public under a quota management system as proposed in Soundings will constrain growth and limit future employment opportunities in these communities.

While the Soundings document tells us that commercial fishers won't be happy if quota is reduced to allow for the public harvest, the reality is that, commercial fishers catch around 500,000 tonnes versus the public harvest of around 15,000 tonnes. The commercial take generates around $1.3 billion in exports and profits are not all retained in N.Z. Expenses include many imported goods such as vessels, fuel, electronics equipment, bait, motors, fishing gear etc. The fishing industries catch call of the mid 1990's, $2 billion in exports by 2000 has fallen silent and well short of its mark. A clear sign to option4 that wild fisheries have fallen below their ability to deliver peak commercial catches.

The recreational and sustenance take of less than 15,000 tonnes generates almost one billion dollars of internal revenue on just 5 species it creates many employment opportunities and can potentially grow considerably further.

Using these figures it is clear that the economic value of inshore recreational and sustenance fishing far exceeds that of the inshore commercial fishery. Unduly limiting or constraining recreational harvest could seriously undermine income for local communities and businesses, prevent growth in these industries and severely affect internal revenue gathered by the Government.

While acknowledgment has been given to Maori Traditional and Customary fishing, the Government has yet to acknowledge the culture and tradition that surrounds other forms of customary fishing handed down through generations of native born New Zealanders. Consideration also has to be given to Maori who may be unable to fish under a customary permit, as mentioned in Soundings.

It cannot be disputed that since European settlers arrived in New Zealand, harvesting from the sea or shore to feed friends and family has been an accepted and well established part of what it means to be a New Zealander.

During the Soundings consultation round option4 representatives have had many discussions with fourth and fifth generation New Zealanders who have developed historical, and intergenerational family traditions and customs around harvesting seafood. They are now teaching these traditions and customs to their children in the hope that they will in turn teach their children and their children's children.

Unduly limiting or constraining customary and traditional noncommercial harvest for all of the public while giving Traditional Maori an uncapped customary right will be seen as a further and unnecessary form of racial division and may in fact be contrary to the Human Rights Bill

Part 1 Conclusion
Because of the wide range of public rights that are being debated and the obvious priority nature of some of the rights as discussed, it is option4's firmly held opinion that a priority public right is the only reasonable and just way of ensuring the needs of ALL non-commercial rights holders are adequately expressed. Conversely, if a priority right for all non-commercial users cannot be given then it would be necessary to divide the specific types of non-commercial marine harvesters into sub sectors with each sub sector having its rights expressed in separate legislation, with some sectors, user groups, or individuals receiving priority over commercial fishers and possibly other sectors of society who fish in the marine environment. Such an approach may be unnecessarily divisive and, categorising which group or groups individuals belong to, could be prohibitively expensive and raise further human rights issues.

option4 has devised two foundation principles on which this necessary priority could be given management effect:

  1. A priority right that is equal to or, in recognition of the Crown's Treaty of Waitangi obligations, slightly lesser than Maori Traditional rights, while being above, or in priority to, Commercial fishing rights.
  2. An area right which will allow for the exclusion of Commercial methods that deplete fish stocks in areas important to the noncommercial fishing public, or hinders their ability to reasonably access those fish stocks in which they have an interest. option4 believes that, by incorporating these two rights in any redefinition of noncommercial fishing rights, the Government will fulfill its international obligations, reduce any chance of racial division over access to marine resources and enjoy overwhelming public support for such decisions.


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