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Ad Hoc Imposition of Marine Reserves

19 April 2005

Ad Hoc Imposition of Marine Reserves Fails to Preserve Fishers’ Rights

The New Zealand Seafood Industry Council, SeaFIC, has come out in support of recreational fishers who say their voice is being ignored by the Conservation Minister, who is steam-rolling through new Marine Reserve applications.

The Recreational Fishing Council says more than seven percent of New Zealand waters are now marine reserves, close to the government's target of 10 percent, and therefore shut to all fishers.

SeaFIC CEO Owen Symmans says that “the establishment of Marine Reserves is a blunt tool to protect the marine environment potentially taking property rights without compensation from the Commercial Fishermen.

The Government should concentrate on identifying the risks and then putting in place management regimes which best manages those risks. Marine Reserves are not a fisheries management tool and only one of the mechanisms available to manage biodiversity risks.

Fishers too have rights. We are a responsible industry and support the protection of biodiversity but decisions as to how this is achieved must take into account property rights of fishermen” Mr Symmans said.

“There is a whole range of tools available to achieve marine protection under the Fisheries and Resource Management Acts but government appears to be forging ahead closing out huge areas and pushing out into the EEZ through only one tool – Marine Reserves.”

He echoed Recreational Fishing Council President Keith Ingram’s concerns that the Conservation Minister had to consult all affected parties before making decisions on closing tracts of water and compromising property rights.

“The commercial fishing industry wants an approach that protects property rights and sustains the marine environment rather than seemingly arbitrary decisions on what water should be closed off to everyone and locked into a marine reserve.

ENDS

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