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Anderton: Shared Fisheries will bring New Era

Anderton: Shared Fisheries will bring New Era of Fishing Management

On nearly every shore on nearly every day a New Zealander drops a hook and tries to catch a fish. There is no other past time we love as much. It's part of growing up: Kids learn to catch a fish; It's part of our holidays and part of our lifestyle that we go to the water and fish.

On boats or from wharves, from beaches or using air tanks, with bait, lures or nets...fishing is our most popular recreational sport. And so I want to start out by stating the government recognises the central role recreational fishing has in our lifestyle.

And I want to put on record my acknowledgement of the Recreational Fishing Council and its many constituent groups. The effort put in by volunteers to represent the sector ensures we hear the voice of recreational fishing and the entire non-commercial sector.

By its nature fishing is not always an organised sport so it's not easy for volunteers to step forward and play their part. Yet we need to keep the recreational industry at the forefront of our thoughts as we look at the future of fishing.

So I appreciate and acknowledge the contribution made by your representatives. Just as recreational fishing is a heartland activity for New Zealander recreationally - it is also becoming one of our most important industries.

Fishing has always been important to our economy. Fish has sustained us since the first settlers arrived here on their waka and found the harbours teaming with abundance. Many of the first commercial transactions between Maori and European arrivals involved fish. So the industry was one of New Zealand's first reliable sources of foreign exchange!

Today our fishing and marine industries are growing quickly and earning more foreign exchange than ever. I recently spoke to a group of commercial fishing people and assured them our aim should be to double the value we receive from commercial fisheries over the next twenty years.

I also told them we can do this without having to increase the number of wild fish we take. The growth will come from increasing the value we achieve. I am certain the industry will grow quickly in coming years and it will become more valuable. As it grows and as our environment changes we need to adapt to find solutions that work for everyone.

Everyone shares the same top priority for our fishing sector. We all want the resource to be managed in a way that meets our needs today and husbands its potential for the future.

Everyone wants to exploit the lifestyle and economic potential of the resource. Everyone wants fairness in the way we manage the rights and obligations of everyone who has a stake in fishing.

And we all want to keep the resource secure from threats to our enjoyment of it - whether from unfair foreign exploitation or from predatory environmental pests. So everyone with a stake in the fishing sector shares a lot ion common. Our boats are all floating on the same ocean.

We have this week seen an example of common purpose than the release of kingfish we saw this week. I went up there for this event. It was an exciting idea from your president arising from a sad loss for Northland's kingfish farm.

Individuals got involved to support the plan in many ways: Donations of cash, loans of equipment and fast processing of the paperwork for example. Sanford came forward as a sponsor, with the recreational fishing council. It shows that partnership between different stakeholders in the sector can benefit everyone.

We have exciting progress to achieve from working together across the industry. Collaboration is not always easy. But because the possibilities that arise from working together can be fruitful, the government has a crucial initiative to support improved fisheries management: Shared fisheries.

The purpose of the project is to make sure the management of shared fisheries allows us to get the best use from our fisheries. This is an important issue for recreational fishing and your representatives have put a lot of time and effort into working with the government.

I hope that some time in August we will have a discussion paper on shared fishing ready for release. MFish has been working on a range of options for the public discussion document.

The involvement of a range of stakeholders - including your representatives - has been valuable. We all need to recognise everyone who has a legitimate interest in issues. I anticipate some heated debate over the issues because some of us will rank our priorities differently.

That's democracy and we're all better off for it because the truth only emerges from debate and discussion. But the system only works if we are prepared to approach issues with an open mind on the facts. I want to stress that I am not going to rush any process.

Those who know me know that I will keep asking question until I am confident that a suggestion is well grounded and it can be defended. There will be a genuine consultation after the public discussion document is released. Everyone will have the chance to make their case. And I will be listening.

I will certainly be listening to the recreational sector. And I recognise as a voluntary grouping it's harder for you to have your say than for many others with an interest in fishing.

So I have agreed to the Ministry providing financial support for representatives to meet to discuss the proposals. There will be a workshop once the discussion paper is released and I hope the council will take a major role in organising it. Increased certainty in managing shared fisheries will need some give and take from all sides.

I have seen a lot of positive indications that there is goodwill. Groups are working together across commercial, recreational and customary lines. For example your president, vice-presidents and secretary attended the recent Seafood Industry Council conference.

There are close ties between the recreational sector and Maori, particularly with Ngapuhi in Northland. We have a lot of work to do, so the more different stakeholder groups come together, the more progress we will make.

Over the next four years the government will be developing fishing plans. Over the next year, the Ministry will consult on generic standards to go in the plans. These will cover the way we do things - for example, minimum time periods for consultation. There will also be 'fisheries performance standards' - like minimum fish stock sizes, or limits on by-catch or benthic impacts.

There is another two million dollars in the budget for a Marine Protected Areas Strategy. This is an improvement on the days of ad hoc marine protection, which created uncertainty and anxiety among many coastal communities. In future marine protection will be planned for all our waters using a scientific classification system.

It involves working with communities to ensure local views are taken into account. We need to ensure everyone who has a stake in fishing has a chance to engage actively in the way we manage fisheries. Recreational Fishing Ministerial Advisory Committee and regional recreational forums have been set up.

I have been pleased to work with the Ministerial advisory committee to date. The individuals on that Committee are not afraid to forthrightly provide me with their views and I appreciate the dialogue. Equally, I hear positive reports about the regional forums that were established at the same time.

The regional forums provide recreational fishers with another avenue through which they can raise concerns, share information, and contact the Ministry. These are formal channels of communication - and to ensure your voice is heard where it needs to be. It is not a substitute for direct contact with your sector and you will always find me receptive to dialogue.

Last year the Ministry of Fisheries reviewed various recreational regulations that had been a bit of a thorn in the side of recreational fishers. There were some very positive outcomes from that review. For example, there was recognition for safety people when divers are collecting scallops and oysters - so they are now included in bag limits.

Changes were made to accommodate use and possession of SCUBA when harvesting mussels. Regulations were also amended to allow for shucking and eating shellfish at sea. These were common sense changes that reflected the reality on the water. What they show is that the decisions should be made on the basis of facts.

On the same grounds - I'm getting more information on the issue of lassoes for taking rock lobster and for the recreational bag limit for Coromandel scallops. I want to stress this - I will make decisions on these sorts of issues on the basis of the best evidence.

We seldom have all the facts available to us, so we have to make judgment calls about the weight of evidence. And I appreciate the constructive initiative you have shown in providing more information on both these issues. There is a lot going on fisheries. There are many areas where we need involvement of recreational and non-commercial fishing interests

I believe we have a constructive era ahead where we can all reap the benefits of working closely across the various dimensions of fishing in New Zealand. It's my priority to unlock the potential of the industry for our economy and to protect the resource at the same time for the benefit of all of us who enjoy the sea's harvest.

I am committing to taking an approach of inclusive and to make decisions evidence-based. I am encouraged by the goodwill I have found in the industry in working through issues. And I believe it will help to ensure we are successful in making sure fisheries management serves and fairly balances the interests of everyone with a stake.


ENDS

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