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Kahawai Backgrounder

03 September, 2004

Background for media on the introduction of Kahawai into the QMS:

An extensive and vigorous statutory consultation process to introduce Kahawai into New Zealand's world recognised quota management system (QMS) began in November 2001.

All submissions supported the introduction of Kahawai into the QMS, and this decision was Gazetted in October 2003.

Consultation on catch limits was lengthy, and participation vigorous. Those decisions were announced by the Fisheries Minister on 10 August and Gazetted on 12 August, of this year.

These decisions recognised the interests of recreational fishers: In recognition of Kahawai being dubbed "the people's fish", the combined Recreational and Customary allowable catch was set at one and a half times the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC).

In particular, in Kahawai area 1 (North Cape to East Cape) where there is the greatest concentration of recreational fishing, the combined Customary and Recreational allowable catch was set at twice the commercial allowable catch.

These decisions also recognised the need to protect the sustainability of Kahawai: In making the decisions on catch limits, the Fisheries Minister had to take into account the uncertainty and lack of data available on the status of the Kahawai stocks. As such, the decisions in setting the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for Kahawai were cautious and conservative. The decision was made to reduce the overall amount of Kahawai that can be caught by 15 per cent, to safeguard this popular fish species.

So where does Kahawai fit in with the recently passed Fisheries Amendment Bill No.3 (FAB.3): In short, it doesn't. There were no decisions in FAB.3 that related to either the inclusion of Kahawai into the QMS or the allocation of catch limits. As highlighted above, the decision to introduce Kahawai into the QMS was made in an entirely separate process and announced in October 2003.

However, the United Future Party tried to tack on an amendment to the FAB.3 legislation in the form of a Supplementary Order Paper that attempted to overturn that statutory process.

Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope described to Parliament the consequences of not introducing Kahawai into the QMS in the following way: "If Kahawai is not introduced to the Quota Management System on 1 October 2004, Kahawai will not be managed to ensure sustainability. The fisheries permit moratorium will expire on this date, and if Kahawai is not in the Quota Management System any commercial fishers would be able to target Kahawai by any method. There will be no commercial catch limit. Recreational fishers will not have defined shares in the fishery. It is this lack of limits and control that lead to the decision to introduce Kahawai into the world-leading Quota Management System to ensure New Zealanders can catch this species in the future."

The United Future SOP was voted down by Parliament 71 votes [Labour 51, Greens 9, ACT 7, Progressives 2, Maori Party 1, Independent: D.Huata 1] to 35 [National 27, United Future 8].

Research: Kahawai is one of the fish species most caught by recreational fishers. Research on recreational fishing has just received a significant boost of $4 million over the next four years in the 2004 Budget.

The Ministry of Fisheries has been asked by the Fisheries Minister to direct some of this funding to increase the knowledge of the recreational take of Kahawai.

Commercial purse seine fishing: Purse Seine fishers gained no advantage in the way catch limits were set for Kahawai. In fact, the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) is set at a level which is significantly less than the tonnage which purse seine fishers alone are able to catch under the current permit regime.

The final allocations for the 04/05 fishing year (in tonnes) are:
Stock Description TAC Customary allowance Recreational allowance TACC Incidental mortality
KAH 1 Auckland 3,685 550 1,865 1,195 75
KAH 2 Central (East) 1,705 205 680 785 35
KAH 3 South Island 1,035 125 435 455 20
KAH 4 Chathams 16 1 5 10 0
KAH 8 Central (West) 1,155 125 425 580 25
KAH10 Kermadec Is. 16 1 5 10 0

TOTAL 7612 1007 3415 3035 155

Timeline: The decision to introduce Kahawai into the QMS and set total allowable catch levels, was a statutory process, involving due process and extensive consultation.

November 2001 MFish advise stakeholders of a proposal to introduce 50 new species into the QMS, including Kahawai. June 2003 MFish releases proposal assessing costs and benefits of introducing Kahawai into the QMS June – August All submissions support the introduction of Kahawai into 2003 the QMS October 2003 Kahawai Gazetted as a species subject to the QMS January 2004 MFish releases proposals for TAC, allowances, TACCs and other management controls for Kahawai to apply from 01 October Jan – April Consultation 2004 June 2004 MFish final advice on proposals prepared August 2004 Minister announces decisions and TACs and TACCs for Kahawai are Gazetted August 2004 United Future try to tack on an amendment to the FAB.3 legislation to overturn this statutory process. It fails 71 to 45 October 2004 New fishing year begins with Kahawai in the QMS


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