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ORNZ blasts ‘arrogant’ Conservation Minister

ORNZ blasts ‘arrogant’ Conservation Minister

Outdoor Recreation New Zealand, the affiliate party of United Future, tonight blasted Conservation Minister Chris Carter for his ‘arrogant’ dismissal of the views of thousands of New Zealand recreational fishers and warned of a ‘serious` backlash against the Labour Party at the ballot box.

ORNZ vice-chairman, Phil Hoare, said “The Minister has approved a large marine reserve off the north east coast of Great Barrier Island, with a token area around Whangapoua Bay which has been zoned outside the reserve boundaries, supposedly for local residents to fish.

“Of the original 3513 submissions that the Department of Conservation received, the Minister says that 2200 of these were in support of the reserve.

“Would the Minister care to explain to the public just how, where and why this large support base suddenly emerged from, because frankly we don’t believe him?

“He has obviously totally disregarded the other 1313 submissions from recreational fishers, local iwi and Great Barrier Island residents - submissions that clearly indicated they did not support the DoC proposed Marine Reserve application.

“We are appalled that on this occasion he quotes the number of submissions supporting his decision, without indicating those who clearly did not support the application.

“We have been advised on many occasions in the past, that when the majority of submissions were against an application, then it would be the quality of the content as opposed to the quantity that would be the determining factor.

“In his press statement of 16th June 05, regarding this new marine reserve, the Minister quotes from a 2003/04 survey which suggests that the proposed reserve area of 49,500 hectares is “isolated and remote” with a low to moderate use by recreational fishers during mid summer.

“So where is the compelling evidence for a marine reserve in an area that has at best minimal fishing impact?

“This is an isolated area and one that is only accessible by reasonable sized craft over a short window of opportunity in settled weather, and one of the reasons why the fish stocks in the area are sustainable.

“What Mr Carter has failed miserably to recognize and understand, is that he has now effectively managed to prevent recreational fisherman accessing the principal sheltered accessible hapuka ground and sport fishery area for migratory species available to Auckland fishers.”

Mr Hoare asked if the Minister had taken on board financial considerations, i.e. the potential loss of income to the Great Barrier Island economy from land based fishers / charter boats etc who will now have to seek other less accessible fishing areas.

“Not to mention the flow on effect created by a loss of earnings for local charter boats and fishing tackle industry who derive their income from local fishers and the emerging market of overseas fishers.

“ORNZ regards this is as another arrogant display of total disregard from a Minister who apparently has an absolute lack of understanding regarding the value of this area to fishers.

“He has totally disregarded the wishes and requirements of the fishing public. This blatant arrogance is typical of the absolute disregard that the current government displays when dealing with such issues.

“What Mr. Carter has failed to take on board is the huge backlash from recreational fishers who will no doubt show their disapproval at the ballot box,” said Mr Hoare.


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