Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Freshwater Fish Management Bill Pushed Back

First published in Energy and Environment on November 28

Facing a backlash over a proposed new regulatory regime for freshwater fish management, the Government has decided to pushback a select committee deadline.

The Environment Committee was due to complete a report on the Conservation (Indigenous Freshwater Fish) Amendment Bill by 12 March 2019. This has now been moved to 12 June 2019.

The Bill reforms the Department of Conservation’s regulatory framework for the management of freshwater fish with new powers to manage waterways and fishing. The Bill itself does not propose any major change. However, with any Bill putting forward a new regulatory there is doubt and uncertainty about what the regulations might be and how they will work in practice.

This vacuum of information has been filled with doubts and concerns, ranging from extreme conspiracy theories through to valid criticisms of what may happen.

Political support for the Bill is also tenuous, National and NZ First’s support was only to select committee and they cited concerns that needed to be addressed, including the impact on sports fisheries, land owners and the wide-ranging powers envisaged.

The bill means native fish in waterways are given the same level of protection as other native wildlife and plants in conservation areas. If fishing is to occur, it needs to be authorised. It also allows for greater protection of spawning sites and clarifies existing provisions which allow temporary closures of fisheries, for a period of up to five years.



Sports fishing groups have been amongst the most concerned, with whitebaiters not far behind. There also others expressing other worries more quietly. These include power companies who use waterways on DoC land to generate power and farming groups who are worried about how DoC’s new powers will be used on private land.

DoC has begun trying to explain in more detail about how the proposed regime will work, but says something has to change as many of native fish are in trouble, and fisheries are in decline. If this decline and the destruction of habitat continues, they argue there will not be many fish or whitebait left for people to catch anyway.

DoC has been working on what the main threats are and how to best manage them, and to ensure that the legislation contains enough tools to allow those threats to be managed. Any significant changes in management of threats and fish would come after further public consultation, in 2019.

While the Bill is mainly a framework to set up further tools, it does make some changes to when people can fish, so fishing in conservation parks and similar areas will now need permission, fishing for a reason other than food will need approval.

Trout fishers have seen the Bill as a trojan horse to make major change to regulation of their sector, but DoC says it does not change the ability of Fish & Game to manage sports fish, or remove fundamental controls such as the prohibition on sale of trout and trout farming.

Whitebaiters are also concerned as the Bill does means an authorisation will need to be issued. DoC is proposing a generic authorisation to whitebait in conservation areas so individual fishers don't need to apply.

There is also a wider review of whitebait fishery management with an options paper due to go to the minister in February 2019.

This work is looking at all the issues affecting whitebait, not just fishing. Whether the whitebait fishing regulations would be changed will be decided once the issues and options report has been considered. If the regulations were to be changed, there would be a public consultation process first. In the meantime, DOC will continue to work with partners to address issues such as spawning sites, to improve whitebait runs.

This story and other energy and environment news are available at https://energyandenvironment.net.nz/home.html


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Resignation Of Metiria Turei: Were Journalists 'just Doing Their Job'?

In our research we examined the role of journalism in animating the Turei controversy and the different perceptions of professional journalists and online commentators sympathetic to Turei’s left politics. ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Extradition Of Julian Assange

It isn’t necessary to like Julian Assange to think that his extradition to the US (on the charge of aiding and abetting Chelsea Manning) would be a major injustice... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: Islamic State Meets The Searchers

The histories of the European children forcibly recruited into Native American tribal life during the 19th century do remind us of just how difficult the social re-integration of the children of ISIS is likely to be. More>>

Joseph Cederwall: CJR Analysis Of Post-Christchurch Media Coverage

After the Christchurch massacre, Columbia Journalism Review analysed news sources to see how outlets complied with guidelines from groups that seek to limit the amplification of terrorist acts through media. More>>

News Deserts: The Death March Of Local Journalism

Joseph Cederwall: The corporate media sector seems unable to do anything to halt the raging dumpster fire of consolidation, layoffs and centralisation of content production. All this means we are increasingly seeing ‘news deserts’ appearing in local communities. Illustration by Paul Sahre. More>>

ALSO: