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Mataitai reserve set up on south Waikato coast

Mataitai reserve set up on south Waikato coast

The Aotea Harbour mätaitai reserve has been set up on the south-west coast of the Waikato, Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said today.

The mätaitai reserve encompasses Aotea Harbour and the coastal waters outside the harbour. The reserve covers approximately 40 km2.

Mātaitai reserves are established under customary fishing regulations and recognise traditional Mäori fishing-grounds that are important for customary food-gathering. They also allow the local tangata whenua to advise the Minister of Fisheries directly on how best to manage fishing in the area.

Jim Anderton said this mätaitai reserve wouldallow Ngā Hapū o Aotea Moana to more effectively manage non-commercial fishing in these important traditional fishing-grounds.

“The reserve recognises the strong and enduring connection the hapū has with this area.”

Commercial fishing will be banned within the mätaitai reserve, but recreational and customary fishing will still be allowed. Recreational fishing will not require a permit from local Mäori.

“The Aotea Harbour mätaitai reserve will have no effect on the local community’s ability to go fishing or gather shellfish under the existing recreational allowances.”

In the future, the Tangata Kaitiaki (guardians) for the mätaitai reserve may recommend bylaws to the Minister of Fisheries that could impose some restrictions within the boundaries of the reserve. Any restrictions would apply equally to everyone fishing within the reserve.

Customary seafood-gathering for Mäori cultural purposes would be governed by authorisations issued by appointed guardians (rather than recreational regulations), as is currently the case for customary fishing around many areas of the North Island.

Jim Anderton said that as Minister, he was ultimately responsible for all New Zealand’s fisheries.

“I would carefully consider any fishing restriction recommended by the guardians but would have to approve them before they come into effect.”

He said he carefully considered the effect the mätaitai reserve would have on commercial fishers.

“I recognise the reserve will affect some commercial fishers but, overall, I do not believe those effects will prevent them from taking their catch entitlements.”

The mätaitai reserve will come into effect on 8 May 2008.

The proposal for this mätaitai reserve was extensively consulted on with the local community including two separate calls for written submissions, a public meeting and direct discussions with local Mäori.

A high resolution map of the new Aotea Harbour mätaitai reserve and further information on mätaitai reserves and customary fishing are available on the Ministry of Fisheries website www.fish.govt.nz

BACKGROUND

Quick facts
Mäori rights to manage customary seafood-gathering (for cultural purposes such as hui and tangi) and traditionally important fishing-grounds were recognised under the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Settlement agreed in 1992.
There are currently 8 mätaitai reserves in New Zealand (including this one).
Mätaitai reserves are not marine reserves.
Commercial fishing is banned in mätaitai reserves but recreational fishing is allowed.
Customary fishing is governed and managed by Tangata Kaitiaki or guardians; nominated by local Mäori and confirmed by the Minister of Fisheries.
There are currently 213 Tangata Kaitiaki in the North Island.
All customary catch must have an authorisation from a Tangata Kaitiaki.

What are mätaitai reserves?
Under the customary fishing regulations Mäori may apply to the Minister of Fisheries to establish a mätaitai reserve over any part of their traditional area for the purpose of recognising and providing for customary management practices and food-gathering.

A mätaitai reserve has the following effect:
Excludes commercial fishing (including the landing and unloading of commercially caught fish, the use of holding pots to store commercial rock lobsters and the baiting of lines), unless specifically allowed by regulations;
Does not prohibit boats carrying fish and fishing gear onboard from passing through or sheltering in a mätaitai reserve;
Does not exclude recreational fishing;
Does not require recreational fishers to obtain permits or prevent non-Mäori from fishing;
Does not prevent access to beaches or rivers not on private land;
Allows for bylaws governing fishing in the reserve to be made by the Minister of Fisheries.
Any bylaws approved apply to all, with only one exception (the taking of seafood to meet the needs of a marae)

Are mätaitai reserves just for Mäori?
Controls on recreational fishing within mätaitai reserves must apply equally to all people, with only one exception: if a reserve is closed to recreational fishing, the guardians may approve the taking of seafood to meet the needs of the marae belonging to the tangata whenua of the reserve.

No commercial fishing is allowed within a mätaitai reserve, this includes Mäori owned commercial fishing companies. Limited commercial fishing can be reinstated if the guardians request it and the government passes regulations to allow it.

Managing customary catch
Every fish stock has a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) set by the Minister of Fisheries which ensures that stock is fished sustainably or will recover to sustainable levels. Within that TAC, specific and separate allowances are made for commercial catch, recreational catch and customary Mäori catch. These allowances and the TAC itself are regularly reviewed.

Tangata Kaitiaki can issue anyone a permit to catch fish in their traditional area (rohe moana) for customary use. They must report these catches to the Ministry of Fisheries so the Minister can allow for customary use when setting next year's catch allowances.

ENDS

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