to Rights Working Group on Soundings
option4 Project Leader
18 Styca Place,
Ph/Fax 09 : 818-2146
email : email@example.com
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'.
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
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 web site. 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 web site. It is evident that this web site has provided
a powerful national debating forum throughout the Rights Working Group
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. Extendsive discussion on talkback radio
has further raised awareness.
option4 has also
fielded representatives and received overwhelming support at the following
public consultation meetings:
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:
Big Game Fishing Council.
Marlborough Recreational Fishers' Assn.
N Z 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 web site 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.
Favour of option4 Principles
APPROX LIST OF SUBMISSIONS
as at 19/12/00
MAIL NUMBERS 50,000
CLUB NUMBERS 35,000 plus
TOTAL NUMBERS 87,000 plus
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
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.
the preexistence 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 preexisting 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.
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 non-commercial
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 fulfil 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
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
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
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 preexisting
public rights to harvest from the marine environment.
ECONOMIC AND CULTURAL FACTORS RELATING TO THE RIGHTS OF ALL NEW ZEALANDERS
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.
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
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 preexisting 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.
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"
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 non-commercial access despite
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
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 non-commercial 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.
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 childrens' children.
Unduly limiting or constraining customary and traditional non-commercial
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
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
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 non-commercial 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 non-commercial fishing rights,
the Government will fulfil its international obligations, reduce any chance
of racial division over access to marine resources and enjoy overwhelming
public support for such decisions.
The interface between Public Rights in the fishery and
the Commercial sector, and the 3 Options in "Soundings."
The soundings document
"The Vision has healthy coastal fisheries as a central component. There
is also a desire to have co-operative working relationships with customary
and commercial fishers, and involvement of the public in fisheries management.
Improving the management of recreational fishing will need to recognise:
fishing rights for managing the taking of seafood for customary purposes
government's sustainability, environmental and Treaty obligations
the quota management system because the government will not abolish
this system for managing commercial fisheries
the need to consider costs and benefits (economic and environmental)
of any proposals."
Nothing in this submission
is intended to affect customary fishing rights for managing the taking
of seafood for customary purposes.
option4 does, however, have grave concerns over the current interpretation
(in Soundings) of the strength of the commercial rights for species managed
under the QMS and those fisheries managed outside the QMS.
Both Options 2&3 of Soundings promotes a proportional public share integrated
with commercial fishers under the QMS.
option4 has grave concerns regarding the compatibility and suitability
of a system designed to control commercial fishing (the QMS) to deliver
outcomes favourable to the various existing public rights to harvest seafood.
These rights cannot be expressed as a simple minor shareholding in a privately
held property right.
The following examples of continued erosion of non-commercial fisheries
have happened while the government has been charged with the responsibility
of management. option4 knows there is no chance the non-commercial sector
could resolve these issues as 2% stakeholders in New Zealand's fisheries
as proposed in Soundings.
During the 1970's and up until the inception of the QMS, inshore fishstocks
were massively overfished by an overcapitalised inshore commercial fishery.
The public were disenfranchised from their fishery through this period
as prime inshore stocks were fished near to collapse. Catch rates for
amateur and sustenance fishers plummeted during these years.
It is clear from the preliminary documentation and original interpretation
of the ITQ right that concerns raised by non-commercial fishers at the
time were ignored, as were those of Maori.
Initially, quotas were set at the upper limits of fishing, that would,
according to the science of the day, allow the stocks to recover. Despite
being compensated $46 million to reduce effort in these depleted fisheries,
the industry found several ways of increasing their profits and quota
holdings which circumvented the intent of the QMS.
The Quota appeals authority(QAA), which was set up to hear claims from
fishers dissatisfied with their allocations, was subject to a rush of
claims from commercial fishers. Most were successful and quota on some
important inshore species like snapper were inflated by around 30%. The
quotas generated by the successful QAA appeals should have been absorbed
into the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) but were allowed to accumulate
above the scientifically set levels the industry had been compensated
to accept. While some snapper quotas were eventually cut back to near
the original quota levels, most QAA issued quota is still held by the
fishing industry, unjustly inflating the commercial share at the expense
of the access of all non-commercial users interested in those fisheries.
Quotas on many shared inshore stocks are set so high they do no constrain
commercial effort whatsoever. Blue cod, flatfish, grey mullet, gurnard,
hapuku, bass, john dory, tarakihi, trevally are in this category. At best
this confounds the allocation issue. Is the commercial share, under Options
Two and Three in Soundings, to be based on an amount of fish the commercial
sector cannot currently catch just because they have quota for it? At
worst this leaves non-commercial fishers competing against commercial
fishers who can deplete a harbour or whole Quota Management Area (QMA
) until it is no longer economically viable to commercially fish there.
This can leave amateur fishers to struggle trying to catch any legal sized
fish missed by the commercial sector. In the following year, as the fishery
is starting to recover the commercial fishers can return and repeat the
exercise. Scallops, the Tauranga harbour dragnetting saga, the Kaipara,
Manukau, Raglan, Kawhia and Aotea Harbour's flounder and mullet conflicts
are examples of this flaw in the QMS.
Since the inception of the QMS other commercial methods of increasing
their profits at the expense of other users have been well documented
and are covered elsewhere in this document.
In "Soundings," Option 1 allows for the continual erosion
of the public right to recreationally fish and harvest seafood. Options
2 and 3 will make the public a minor shareholder in a commercial fishery.
option4 rejects options 1, 2 and 3.
option4 considers implementing the following two principles the only
just way to resolve the above issues
1. A priority public 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
2. An area right which will allow for the exclusion
of Commercial methods that deplete fish stocks in areas important to the
non-commercial fishing public, or hinders their ability to reasonably
access those fish stocks in which they have an interest.
PUBLIC AND THE QUOTA MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Overview Threats to the publics harvest.
The Introduction of the Quota Management System (QMS) in 1986 was a major
change in the way fisheries were managed and lead to a restructure of commercial
fishing. There were many winners, who were gifted valuable catch rights
based on their catch history and many losers, such as hundreds of part time
fishers, who got nothing. Many commercial fishers, disenchanted with the
QMS and the new paper work sold their quota to the corporate fishing companies
or Government and looked for other work.
The initial allocation of fishing rights under the Quota Management System
had not made provision for Maori. The Muriwhenua claim to the Waitangi Tribunal
successfully established the political right to a share of fisheries resources
for Maori. Considerable effort and expense was involved in allocating Maori
commercial and customary rights. There is an ongoing commitment by Government
and the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission to the implementation of
Maori fishing rights.
Claims have been made that the New Zealand QMS is the best fisheries management
system in the world, the envy of many nations. Yet in the 14 years since
its introduction no other country has embraced Individual Transferable Quota
(ITQ) so fully. It is a economic model based on individual property rights
deriving from the objective of commercial utilisation of the resource.
There are a number of assumptions, pointed out by the Parliamentary Commissioner
for the Environment (December 1999), that have had a marked influence on
the evolution of fisheries management and the Quota Management System in
New Zealand. These include:
The belief that clearly defined property rights will lead to sustainability
That within such property rights frameworks, sustainability can be achieved
by focusing on a few target species and thus working the system on a species
by species basis.
The expectation that defining property rights will lead to effective collaboration
between rights holders The political belief that clearer property rights
will reduce the costs and risks to the state.
The Commissioner for the Environment also points out that there is ample
evidence from land and forest management experience world wide that the
existence of property rights to natural resources does not guarantee that
they will be managed in a way that ensures the resources are sustained in
the long term.
option4 also rejects Options 2 and 3 on the following
Recreational and subsistence fishers are not convinced that a property rights
regime will meet their long term objectives for maintaining and improving
the quality of the public fishery and their individual rights.
option4 is specifically concerned with the following
risks associated with the QMS and the potential to cause further erosion
of the public share. option4 believes that the closer the public right
is aligned with the commercial rights under the QMS, the greater these risks
Dumping of commercial
catch in excess of quota.
Dumping of unwanted commercial by-catch.
Dumping of commercial overcatch catch through lack of vessel holding capacity.
Highgrading of commercial target catches for economic and quality reasons.
Quotas issued through
the Quota Appeals Authority inflating commercial quota at the expense of
other users and sustainability.
Blackmarketing of unreported
commercial catches. Fisher fraud, misreporting of catches by commercial
fisherman. Corporate fraud, misreporting or non-reporting by large quota
holding entities and exporters.
Deeming of catch to the
Crown, in excess of sustainable limits, caused by an inappropriate quota
holding or quota lease for the method or fishery the vessel is operating
Wastage caused by inefficient
Wastage caused by non-selective fishing gear.
Wastage caused by the loss of experienced fishers, and their replacement
with inexperienced novices, through high costs of leasing quota and low
OF BYCATCH SPECIES
Targeting of species
important to non-commercial fishers, which are outside the QMS to avoid
quota costs and retain profitability and build catch histories.
Loss of yield through
harvesting important species, shared with other users, at sizes that are
well below the sizes that will produce the maximum yield per recruit.
Lack of incentives
in the QMS for individual commercial fishers and/or quota holders to conserve
and enhance fishstocks.
The preference of
the fishing industry toward high-risk harvesting strategies instead of
a precautionary approach in species managed within the QMS.
The race to build
catch history in fisheries outside the QMS often leading to overfishing
and a stock depleted below MSY
a system designed to extract the maximum commercial meatweight from a fishery
capable of fulfilling the needs of non-commercial users.
Recreational quota or shareholdings like the proportional share system
promoted in Options 2 and 3, linked in any form to Commercial rights,
or able to be negatively impacted on by Commercial behaviour and / or
harvest strategies, is totally and completely rejected by option4 as
an unnecessarily high risk strategy. Recreational quota will require extensive
bureaucracy, policing and rules for little or no real gains. Quota-based
or proportional options have a real chance of outcomes for non-commercial
fishers directly opposite to the rosy picture painted in the"Soundings"
Managing a Fisheries Property Right
The cornerstone of the QMS is the setting of an annual Total Allowable
Catch (TAC) for a species and then the ability to manage the fishery within
that limit. As any commercial fisher will tell you, managing the QMS is
not simple. There are lists of reporting requirements and ways of covering
catch when you don't have the quota. These include: Catch and Effort forms,
Licensed Fish Receiver Forms, Quota Management Reports, Quota Lease agreements,
Fish Against Another's Quota (FAAQ) forms and Catch Against Another's
Quota (CAAQ) forms and if they still can't balance quota and catch, fishers
can pay the Deemed Value for any excess.
A very expensive database was created to store this information and a
validation system was set up to check what is put in. In fact, because
of the legal status of the information entered on the forms they have
to be entered exactly as written, errors and all. This means that when
pulling data out of the system it must be carefully groomed before it
can be believed. All this effort (and more) goes into estimating one part
of the equation: "what commercial fishers catch". But even this is an
assumption. The whole commercial Quota Management Database only records
"what commercial fishers tell you they catch".
"The principle effect of the various administrative systems, and now statutory
amendments to the Fisheries Act 1996, has been to allow commercial fishers
to avoid the ultimate point of the QMS, namely to limit the quantity of
fish taken to the quantity of quota held." (from the report of the Parliamentary
Commissioner for the Environment page 53) The option4 group sees that
after 14 years the assumptions of commercial rights based model are still
not being met for the commercial sector. option4 certainly does not want
to see the Public rights in the fishery to be expressed as a minor shareholding
in such a system as is proposed in Options 2 and 3 of Soundings.
Information and Decision Making
We recognise it is the Minister of Fisheries who is ultimately responsible
for setting sustainable limits for our fisheries resources. He or she
will do this based on the best available biological information and estimates
of the total commercial catch, estimates of the total recreational catch,
and estimates of the Maori customary catch provided by the Ministry. Where
that information is uncertain, unreliable or inadequate the Minister must
Snapper is the most researched species in NZ. Some of the top fishery
researchers have fed more and more data into increasingly complex mathematical
models, yet there is still considerable uncertainty about what the current
biomass is and what the maximum sustainable yield is, hence the need for
another tagging programme for the North Island west coast (SNA8), and
more importantly for SNA1 (BOP, Hauraki Gulf and east Northland).
For many of the other key recreational species in New Zealand there is
only limited knowledge of customary, commercial and recreational harvest,
natural mortality, biomass and Maximum Sustainable Yield and there is
considerable uncertainty in the TAC's set for these species. The Minister
must take a more precautionary approach and manage conservatively especially
when potential overfishing will adversely affect the public share.
The QMS needs good quality scientific and harvest data to work. Incorporating
recreational and subsistence fishing into the QMS would require frequent
expensive surveys to monitor harvest plus more intensive management. Much
more money would be needed for education and enforcement as rules and
option4 group knows that there is considerable uncertainty in the stock
assessments and yield estimates. The Minister should take a precautionary
approach to fisheries management considering the quality of data that
he or she receives. The Public do not want an expensive QMS style management
system for recreational fisheries.
Maximum Sustainable Yield:
The focus of the Fisheries Act 1996 is "sustainable utilisation". In the
Act sustainability is described by Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY). However
there is no single number that defines MSY for any fishery. Although open
to interpretation MSY is a useful tool for defining a level of fishing pressure
that (in theory) maximises the annual growth (yield) in that stock. Having
a high proportion of young fish that grow fast, and are quickly replaced
if caught, produces a higher annual yield than large old fish.
Fisheries managed with the goal of maximising the biological yield will
seldom produce quality recreational and sustenance fisheries, particularly
when the best estimates of harvest or sustainable yield for many species
For example: Kingfish and kahawai are both important gamefish/ sportfish
as well as being highly sought after by most other non-commercial and customary
users. Managing fisheries such as these under the Maximum Sustainable Yield
harvest strategy removes 75% of the biomass during the fish-down phase at
best, or will leave the fishery near collapse at worst. The larger fish,
removed during the fish-down phase, represent a critical loss of value to
non-commercial fishers. Our kingfish fishery used to be one of the best
in the world, now sadly most of these world record class fish have been
exported to Japan for sushi; returning the commercial fishermen $5.00 or
$6.00 per kilogram. Despite the fact that commercial fishers are not supposed
to target kingfish, unless they have an endorsement on their permit which
allows them to do so, a large portion of the fish have been taken by commercial
fishers with no such endorsement.The recreational sector has gone to great
lengths to try to preserve this fishery by introducing very low bag limits,
large size limits and promoting tag and release fishing. Still the quality
of this fishery declines.
In the case of kahawai the commercial fishing industry have used spotter
planes to remove 75% of the once abundant schools, leaving the recreational
fisher, on average, to travel four times as far as they used to in order
to encounter a school of kahawai. In areas where commercial effort has been
concentrated, many recreational and customary fishers seldom see any schools
The recreational and subsistence fishers want statutory input into the setting
of clear management objectives that include the quality of key fisheries,
not simply the weight of the harvest. Management objectives such as increasing
recreational catch rates or the number of fish caught over a certain size
will be required to change the focus of fisheries management.
In shared fisheries the option4 group want social, economic and cultural
goals to be addressed when setting Total Allowable Catches. It is not enough
to look at Maximum Sustainable Yield without considering Maximum Social
Yield (benefit), Maximum Economic Yield or Maximum Cultural Benefit. Legislation
must allow for an Optimum Yield to replace an estimate of Maximum Sustainable
Yield when setting quotas for key inshore and pelagic species.
"Soundings," admits Option 1 will allow for the continual erosion of the
public right to recreationally fish and harvest seafood. Options 2 and 3
will make the public a minor shareholder in a commercial fishery. It is
unrealistic to expect the public to be able to resolve the above issue
option4 totally rejects Options 1, 2 and 3 as presented in "Soundings",
because they are incapable of protecting, let alone enhancing the public
right to fish around New Zealand
THE CROWN POSITION AND PUBLIC PRIORITY
The Crown, through
the Ministry of Fisheries, has allowed the erosion of public fishing rights
through the historical bias it has shown toward the fishing industry.
Initially this erosion occurred through the Government encouraging and
giving assistance to the commercial sector during the 1970s.
This assistance resulted in gross commercial overfishing of important
inshore stocks in which the public also had an interest. In order to save
the inshore stocks from collapse, and the fishing industry from destroying
itself, the Government introduced the Quota management system (QMS) in
1986. Despite massive compensation being given to the commercial sector
to reduce fishing effort, the fishing industry managed to circumvent this
limitation by using the Quota Appeals Authority to inflate their quotas
above the scientifically set level, which Governments' own scientists
said was the maximum level to allow the stocks to recover. Serious flaws
in the implementation and enforcement of the QMS has allowed the fishing
industry to exploit a myriad of loopholes which have seriously undermined
the potential of the QMS . Many of these loopholes still exist today.
The New Zealand public is skeptical when the Government boasts of the
QMS being a world leader in fisheries management. While the QMS may have
some benefits in managing commercial fishing, many of these benefits are
at the expense of the rights of all New Zealanders. The Crown did not
question that Traditional Maori Fishing rights were seriously eroded by
the introduction of the QMS, and has subsequently legislated a priority
right in the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) setting process, and area rights
to protect such traditional harvest. The crown has yet to acknowledge
and address the injustice created by its favouritism of the commercial
fishing industry over public access and harvesting rights in the sea.
The previous Labour Governments' interpretation of the commercial fishing
right under the QMS, and how it interacts with recreational fishing, appeared
to offer redress to the above situation. The following quote is from Labours'
National Policy for Marine Recreational Fisheries: "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."
It now appears that, Government's position is NOT clear. A recent ministerial
reply to a letter from option4 seeking clarification regarding the status
of the statements in the National Policy for Marine Recreational Fisheries
informs us "There is some confusion about the 1989 fishing policy and
I welcome the opportunity to provide some clarification. The previous
Labour Government's fisheries Minister approved the policy. As Cabinet
did not consider it, the policy does not have the status of a Labour government
If cabinet did not consider it why does the policy infer full Government
support, ie "Government's position is clear," and "This position reflects
The recent ministerial reply also states "The situation is that
neither recreational nor commercial have priority over one another."
The "Soundings " document initiated under a National Government makes
exactly the same comment on page 6. Do both National and Labour parties
have exactly the same fisheries policy, or is this mirroring of policy
an example of strategic policy advisors in the Ministry of Fisheries driving
their own privatisation agenda forward at the expense of the democratic
Whatever the reason for these mixed messages, it is seen by the overwhelming
majority of non-commercial fishers as yet another attempt to further degrade
the publics' rights to fish and harvest seafood as progressive Governments
continue to fail to address the fundamental issue of public fishing rights.
current fisheries policy ABRIDGED
Greater involvement of all stakeholders in management of the resource,
which is the common heritage of all New Zealanders;
sustainable growth in employment and investment opportunities
for New Zealanders; protecting and enhancing the quality of recreational
fishing available around New Zealand
Recreational fishing is part of the New Zealand way of life.
- ensure New Zealanders
continue to enjoy access to the recreational fishery;
- not impose a recreational
sea fishing licence as a condition of exercising the individual right
to go fishing;
- not require the
recreational sector to operate within a quota, as though it was a commercial
- recognise the
value of recreational fishing to New Zealand's tourism industry.
option4 cannot see
how the Labour Government can possibly achieve its policy through Options
1,2 and 3 of the Soundings document. Option 1 allows further erosion of
the public right while the other two options are quota-based and will
require some form of compulsory levy or licence to provide the necessary
level of compliance with that quota. The fishing industry would accept
no less under a privatised, quota-based system. The NZ public are also
skeptical that successive Governments would be able to retain compulsory
fees or levies for fisheries management purposes, or resist the temptation
to charge recreational and sustenance fishers for core Government services
such as research and compliance costs.
The NZ public are no longer naive enough to be fooled into believing any
compulsory tax, levy, tagging scheme, compulsory membership or membership
which grants additional fishing rights to members, or any other compulsory
scheme, is any different to licensing. The fishing public are also aware
that the Option 2 and 3 proposals in "Soundings" are an initial step toward
the privatising of the publics' rights to harvest from the nations fisheries
resources. Options 2 and 3 will also allow the Government to abdicate
one of its core responsibilities, to ensure the public rights in fisheries
are protected, and also to avoid compensation issues where the Crown has
given fish needed by the public, to the commercial sector.
Any such attempts at privatisation are, and will continue to be, fiercely
opposed by option4.
option4 holds the view that recreational fishing is indeed a right, which
needs to be recognised as such. Such rights have priorities over other
activities, a principle well established by Government with other rights-holders.
Rights are not shares.
Some form of public priority must also be given for "protecting and
enhancing the quality of recreational fishing available around New Zealand"
if Labour is to deliver on its "NEW" fisheries policy!
The time has come where the Crown must face up to it responsibilities
and resolve the injustices inflicted on the publics' fishing rights created
through the prior mismanagement and excessive favouritism shown to the
Leaving the allocation of the public right to the discretion of successive
Ministers, (Option 1 in "Soundings,") is not supported by option4.
We consider that the public of New Zealand have a "right to fish". We
find the concept of a "recreational share" unacceptable, and probably
unsustainable in law. We don't believe that it is, or should be, a political
decision made by a Minister, but a preferential right defined in law.
Furthermore we believe it has already been defined in government policy,
we simply await the delivery on that promise.
FUNDING AND REPRESENTATION
The Soundings document suggests the following management
objectives (the order has been altered for clarity):
- Recreational fishers can actively participate
in management (fisheries and environmental).
- A flexible dynamic management system is
- Good research/recreational harvest information.
- Good enforcement and high levels of recreational
- Sufficient funding exists for recreational
- Productive and co-operative working relationships
between fishing sectors.
- The public is involved in processes like
research, management and compliance.
- There is a statutory-backed network of
mandated recreational groups.
- Collective rights of future generations
option4 makes the following comments
Objectives I to 5 are seen by option4 as essential in any future management
Objective 6 can only evolve over time if the management objectives of
each group are similar. Issues raised in this submission indicate they
are not, and we cannot see how they can be made so under the three options
presented in "Soundings".
Objective 7. The public is already involved through general taxation,
used in funding research and compliance through the Ministry of Fisheries,
and the employment of a Minister of Fisheries at the taxpayers expense.
option4 considers this is appropriate and should continue.
Objective 8. While option4 agrees that there should be a network of mandated
"recreational" groups we feel it is critical that these groups should
be representative of all non-commercial users including diving, shellfish
gathering, set netting, longlining, and also encompass food gathering/harvesting
interests. It should not be compulsory for citizens to associate themselves
with recreational fishing groups for basic sustenance rights to be recognised
and protected. Most recreational fishing groups are currently relevant
only for those enthusiasts who make a sport or recreational pursuit out
of catching or gathering seafood. It is critical to broaden the consultative
network to include all sectors who could be affected by decisions made
by the consultative group.
We are unconvinced that such bodies need statutory backing and suspect
this is proposed only to allow such statutory bodies to levy or licence
those it would represent.
Objective 9. option4 does not consider the rights of future generations
to be a collective right or a shareholding in a collective, but a fundamental
option4 has the following management principles:
- That the priority of recreational and
sustenance fishers over commercial fishers be reinstated.
- That recreational and sustenance fishers
be given an area right capable of excluding bulk commercial methods
that deplete important non-commercial fishing and harvesting areas.
- A planning right that would ensure
any fish conserved by recreational and sustenance fishers could be preserved
for future generations and not be made available to be taken by the
- No licensing, levy or other compulsory
option4 has the additional objectives
- Ensuring the development of a funding
base sufficient for an independent representative body to undertake
all of its roles and represent the interests of all non-commercial fishers
- Ensuring the development of an
effective and efficient national communication and decision making structure.
The Ministry, as agent for the Crown, has demonstrated
itself incapable of, and unwilling to, represent the interests of the
public sector who benefits either directly or indirectly from non-commercial
As the Ministry now wants to divest itself of any representational function,
option4 advocates a national, independent, publicly elected body to represent
the recreational anglers interests to Government.
It is the strong opinion of option4 that such an independent,
non-governmental body (representing the interests of recreational anglers)
should be funded through central government. We see the advocacy, management
and protection of public rights as a proper function of government, and
there are many different models of allocating funds to achieve this. We
suggest that an activity undertaken by such a large portion of the population
(which also directly benefits the wider public through the sharing of
food gathered), to be at least, if not more important than, arts for example.
We would point out that through normal taxation large amounts of GST on
recreational equipment and other activities associated with the fishing
public are collected.
Recreational fishers also contribute large sums of road tax and GST on
that road tax from petrol purchased for motors on boats that don't run
on roads. This revenue stream is enough to support funding this representative
group in the activities associated with managing their interests.
Government profits from, and has a vested interest in, commercial overfishing
to the extent that it receives revenue through overcatch that is deemed
to the Crown. This is effectively a tax on overfishing by the commercial
sector. All fishing in excess of quota depletes the resource to a greater
extent than the scientifically assessed safe limit. This overfishing will
affect sustainability and any rebuild strategy in place at the time. The
rights of other users will also be eroded to the extent of the overcatch.
The punitive taxes gathered from commercial overfishing are also an appropriate
source of funding for a recreational representative body.
The fishing industry received compensation of 46 million dollars in 1986
as a reward for massive overfishing. The fishing industry is due to receive
another round of compensation as a reward for developing the kingfish
and kahawai species as commercial fisheries, in spite of prior recreational
claims that these fisheries were world class sport and big game fisheries.
While this favouritism of the commercial sector and its associated costs
are accepted by the Government, we cannot understand why the recreational
and sustenance sector has not received financial support for a representative
organisation. It is long past time that they did so.
Maori Traditional harvest will likely increase over time. The Government
will have to ensure fish are available for these purposes and if necessary,
will have to compensate the fishing industry for this increased harvest,
or take it directly from the public share. The Government seldom resists
providing resources for Maori Traditional harvest, why can it not show
the same commitment to the rest of New Zealanders, including the "many
Maori who cannot or choose not to fish under customary provisions" mentioned
Alternatively the funds could be split directly off from the Fisheries
Soundings discusses the possibility of the Crown assisting with set up
costs of a recreational representative body. Set up costs without secure
ongoing funding will only result in a failure to achieve the management
objectives as discussed.
A variety of additional funding mechanisms are discussed in appendices
3 and 4.
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the appendices - Printable Appendices