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Improved data to inform recreational fishing

Thursday, 29 November 2001 Media Statement

Improved data to inform marine recreational fishing decisions

The Ministry of Fisheries will improve the information it collects on recreational fishing catch over the next year, to provide a better basis for government decisions on on the future management of marine recreational fisheries.

Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson said it was clear that any changes to marine recreational fisheries management would have to be based on better information about the recreational catch than that now available.

“I have asked the Ministry to develop a strategy for collecting the information necessary to inform decisions about sustainable management and the protection of recreational fishing rights,” Mr Hodgson said. “Everyone involved in the consultation process on recreational fisheries to date agrees that we need to know more about the nature and extent of the recreational catch if we are to make sound decisions. ”

The nature and extent of the catch from charter vessels and the frequency, consistency and accuracy of the Ministry’s four-yearly recreational surveys are two particular areas where a need for better information has been identified.

Mr Hodgson has been in discussions with a ministerial consultative group of recreational sector representatives following the “Soundings” public consultation process on recreational fishing last year. He will continue consultation with recreational fishing groups through 2002 and reform proposals for wide public consultation will be considered by Government early in 2003.

“The Soundings consultation process showed that New Zealanders are passionate about recreational fishing but there is no consensus yet on the best way to protect recreational rights in the future. My subsequent discussions with representatives of the recreational sector have confirmed that lack of consensus and it is clear to me that this process cannot be rushed,” said Mr Hodgson.

The Cabinet has agreed, however, on a broad framework for reform. The objectives are:
- providing recreational fishers access to a reasonable share of inshore fishery resources, equitably distributed between fishers;
- improving, where practical, the quality of recreational fishing;
- increasing public awareness and knowledge of the marine environment and the need for conservation of fishery resources;
- improving management of recreational fisheries;
- reducing conflict within and among fishery user groups;
- maintaining current tourist fisheries and encouraging the development of new operations where appropriate;
- preventing depletion of resources where communities depend on the sea as a source of food; and
- providing more opportunities for recreational fishers to participate in the management of fisheries.

The final policy package must also avoid undermining the purpose and principles of the Fisheries Act 1996 and the Fisheries Deed of Settlement with Maori, recognise commercial, customary, and environmental rights, and be consistent with the Oceans Policy process and the Biodiversity Strategy.


ENDS

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