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Winston Peters - Recreational Fishing Council AGM

Media Release

An address by Rt Hon Winston Peters to the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council AGM, Friday 08 July 2005, 2:20pm, West Plaza Hotel, Wakefield Street, Wellington

Fishermen are well known to be patient people.

You have to be when it comes to representation.

Almost nine years after New Zealand First obtained a coalition agreement for representational funding, Labour’s Fisheries Minister has promised a new group of recreational fishers a direct line to government.

New Zealand First certainly supports progress on how recreational fishers’ long-term interests are best managed but has seen no real commitment from successive National or Labour administrations.

But then I need hardly remind wily old fishers about making the same mistake over and over!

I also want to deal with a bone of contention that an overeager, but naïve parliamentary colleague has been putting around the fishing community.

While his political career will be short-lived, we in New Zealand First do believe you are owned an explanation.

It relates to our stance on the Fisheries Amendment Bill No 3 which New Zealand First was unable to support.

You see this was a terrible piece of legislation, poorly drafted with massive flaws which will impact on both recreational and commercial fishers alike.

Now the aforementioned Member of Parliament put forward a Supplementary Order Paper, which is basically an amendment to the Bill, which would have deferred the inclusion of Kahawai into the Quota Management System.

While his heart was in the right place – this was a rookie mistake, one of many his party has made over the past three years.

You see this Bill was not about Kahawai, they were not even in the Bill, but were already part of the QMS.

And here we have a rookie MP trying to make a name for himself, but not knowing what he was doing.

So we abstained from supporting his SOP – which every commentator said was poorly drafted and unrelated to the actual Bill.

You see once a species goes into the QMS a property right is created.

This constrains both the Minister and Courts when dealing with these issues.

New Zealand First has always maintained, and continues to believe that Kahawai do not belong in the QMS.

Simply trying to delay the inevitable by a year which the MP argued for was pointless.

The simple result of this legislation is that the amount of Kahawai that can be caught is reduced by 15%, with the total allowable catch set at 7612 tonnes, 39% of which will go to commercial fishers.

The government has now managed to alienate both commercial and recreational fishers through this legislation.

But don’t be sucked in by the double speak of fly by night politicians who don’t know what they are talking about.

Now I want to deal with an issue which is potentially the biggest threat to recreational fishing in New Zealand.

That is the unfettered power of the Department of Conservation in setting up, controlling, and managing Marine Reserves throughout New Zealand.

The Aotea or Great Barrier Marine Reserve is a classic example, so is the Rimariki Islands between Whananaki and Whangaruru in the North.

This government’s approach effectively amounts to a confiscation of recreational space, and the establishment of areas from which recreational fishers are excluded.

Now we in New Zealand First are not opposed to marine reserves per se, but we are totally opposed to the process this government is engaged in when setting them up and managing them.

Marine reserves must be a natural development, in which all effected parties, including recreational fishers, are consulted and included in the development and management.

The alternative model of imposition by DOC, with limited consultation, where DOC essentially consults itself about establishing and managing these areas is simply wrong.

You see right now DOC simply evaluates its own proposals – and surprise surprise, accepts them.

We say any evaluation of a proposed marine reserve must be conducted independently of DOC, where all parties are involved in the development of the proposal.

Now I want to briefly deal with the land access issue.

New Zealand First does believe that most farmers and property owners are quite reasonable when it comes to access to waterways, they simply want to know who is on their land.

So we do believe their property rights must be protected.

The difficulty with this government’s recent approach to the issue was that it was trying to ram through legislation without proper consultation.

They are captured by those with extreme conservation views and were not prepared to engage in constructive dialogue.

This was the wrong approach.

Of course access is important – but so is including those who are affected in arriving at agreed solutions.

What do we believe in?

First and foremost in the sustainable management of the fisheries, and the strict policing of the resource.

All three “stakeholders” in the fishery: commercial fishers and recreational, and Maori with traditional customary rights must be acknowledged by statute.

More resources need to be applied to investigating and apprehending poachers. There are too many recreational fishers, and Maori and Asian involved in what amounts to commercial fishing without a licence. A poacher is a poacher – whether the guise be customary rights or recreational fishing.

We believe that there must be greater research on recreational, customary and commercial fisheries to ensure sustainability.

And there MUST be clear definitions of sustainable levels of fish stocks as a result of this research as well as an agreed regime to maintain these.

New Zealand First considers that saltwater fishing is a birthright of all New Zealanders and should not be licenced.

(Freshwater anglers are different. Fish and Game Councils work with acclimatised stocks and have to manage their resources on a limited scale and in a limited area but licensing saltwater anglers would create another funding and policy bureaucracy).

The whole thrust of Fisheries Management is to ensure the conservation of ALL species. Each stakeholder (traditional, commercial and recreational) has a basic responsibility to stick to the rules and a right to participate in their development. It is the Government’s job to oversee this process and to police it.

New Zealand First would ensure that the public, and in particular those with a vested interest, are involved in the setting of catch limits, environmental controls and management strategies.

And let me restate again so that there is no confusion – we do not believe that Kahawai should be in the QMS.


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