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Seek 'good faith' fishing talks with Maori

Baldock: Seek 'good faith' fishing talks with Maori

The Government should seek "good faith talks" with Maori on the catching of undersized fish under customary rights sanctioned in fisheries settlements, United Future's Larry Baldock said today.

"Undersized fish are undersized fish whether caught by Maori or non-Maori," Mr Baldock said after taking the matter up with Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson in Parliament today.

Mr Hodgson told the House that settlements meant customary fishers were not restricted by fish size limits that apply to other New Zealanders.

"We're not talking about forcing the issue, but we should approach Maori in good faith as fellow New Zealanders who value the conservation of our fishing stocks," Mr Baldock, United Future's environment and conservation spokesman, said.

"To say that the settlements in and of themselves are so sacrosanct that the Government cannot even talk to Maori about them is, I believe, to do a serious disservice to Maoridom," Mr Baldock said.

"It is disrespectful of their willingness to conserve our natural resources.

"It is also a serious disservice to wider New Zealand. There is a problem that needs to be addressed, so let's address it," he said.

Such anomalies are also at the heart of the very racial tensions that National has capitalised on in recent weeks in terms of perceived and real privileges, he said.

"And the irony of it is that it was National that negotiated the agreements that have sanctioned Maori being able to catch smaller fish than everyone else - and they did it through what Dr Brash would call discriminatory raced-based legislation."

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