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Marine Recreational Fishing Report Released

Minister of Fisheries Pete Hodgson today released a report and summary of submissions from the "Soundings" public consultation process on the future management of marine recreational fishing.

The report, from the Ministry of Fisheries-NZ Recreational Fishing Council joint working group that ran the consultation process, outlines the key issues raised in public comments on the "Soundings" discussion document released last July.

"The consultation process has shown widespread support for change to the adminstration of marine recreational fishing, but diverse and conflicting views on what that change should be," Mr Hodgson said.

"As expected, licensing for marine recreational fishing has been roundly rejected by the fishing public. Licensing is contrary to Labour's election policy and I have no hesitation in ruling it out as an option for the future management of marine recreational fishing."

Mr Hodgson said he was pleased with the recommendations of the joint working group, which asked him to support further policy development to:
„h better define the public share of and access to fisheries;
„h improve the management of recreational fishing;
„h rule out licensing;
„h improve education and information on fisheries management;
„h improve measurement of the recreational catch;
„h seek more input and participation of iwi in future policy development.

"The wide range of responses to "Soundings" tells me that defining and protecting recreational fishing rights is not going to be achieved with rapid, sweeping change," Mr Hodgson said. "Equally, the call for progress is very strong.

"From here, therefore, I intend to seek a way forward in stages. The first priority must be to improve the capacity of the recreational sector to participate in policy development and fisheries management. The public demand for that came through loud and clear.

"Other useful first steps will include finding ways to improve information on the recreational fishing catch and effort, opening new lines of communication with and between recreational fishers and Maori, and improving the procedures for resolving disputes between recreational fishers and other interests.

"I am exploring with recreational groups the possibility of setting up a ministerial advisory group to work towards those goals as a minimum.

"I am optimistic that an open and inclusive policy process will allow us to progressively secure recreational fishing rights into the future. Those rights are threatened by population, environmental and competitive pressures. We need to respond before those pressures erode the right to fish enjoyed by thousands of New Zealanders."

The joint working group report and summary of submissions are available at www.fish.govt.nz A full set of submissions is available for public scrutiny at the Auckland, Wellington, Nelson and Dunedin offices of the Ministry of Fisheries.

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