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Review of kahawai deferred to next year

8 July 2008 Media Statement

Review of kahawai deferred to next year

Sustainable catch limits, allocations between fishing sectors and recreational fishing bag limits for the kahawai fishery will be reviewed in 2009, Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton announced today.

"The management of our kahawai fishery has been controversial. There is competition between commercial, customary and recreational fishers for their share of the catch and this has lead to conflict and court action" said Jim Anderton.

In 2004 kahawai was introduced into the quota management system and initial allocations were made between the three sectors by the Minister of Fisheries at the time. In 2005 catch limits were reduced due to continuing sustainability concerns.

In 2006 recreational fishers sought a judicial review of the then-Minister's decisions. Following the High Court's judgment, both commercial and recreational fishers appealed aspects of the decision to the Court of Appeal, which in turn issued its judgment on 11 June 2008.

The Crown has already agreed that catch limits and allowances for all kahawai stocks would be reviewed at the next opportunity in light of the decisions of the High Court and Court of Appeal.

"There is simply not enough time left to carry out these reviews, adequately consult, and make fresh decisions in time for the start of the new fishing year on 1 October," Jim Anderton said.

"There is new information to gather and consider and there must be an opportunity for fishers and the general public to have their say. With the recent history of this fishery and the complexity of the issues, this is not a process I am prepared to rush."

"I have said previously that the government will accept the Court's judgment on the kahawai fishery. That still stands. We will not appeal or challenge any rulings and we will implement them as quickly as we can."
The catch limits and allowances for kahawai have been set at 6,848 tonnes for the 2007/08 fishing year. These catch limits and allowances will apply for the 2008/09 fishing year that starts on 1 October 2008.

Of this, the government has allowed 3,985 tonnes to cover the combined recreational and customary catch. It has also allowed 135 tonnes to cover things like accidental wastage during fishing. Commercial fishers have been allocated 2,728 tonnes.

At present there is no minimum legal size limit for kahawai taken recreationally. Up to 20 kahawai per day can be taken by recreational fishers within the mixed bag limit of 20 fish per person per day (except in the Southern Fishery Management Areas, where the daily limit is 15).

A range of commercial rules apply to kahawai, including catch limits and a voluntary fishing season for purse seiners. There are also voluntary commercial purse-seine fishing closures across a range of inshore areas from Northland to Kaikoura, including the Hauraki Gulf.

The kahawai fishery on the north-east coast of the North Island (KAH1) is the country's largest and most important kahawai fishery. The area it covers stretches from North Cape to East Cape, taking in the Bay of Islands, Hauraki Gulf, Coromandel Peninsula and Bay of Plenty. This area is home to the largest number of recreational fishers in the country and is also home to a fleet of commercial fishing vessels that target kahawai at certain times of the year.

KAH1 represents around half of the country's kahawai catch with a total allowable catch of 3315 tonnes out of a national total allowable catch of 6848 tonnes.
Further information on the kahawai fishery and its management may be found on the Ministry of Fisheries' website at this link:

The High Court and Court of Appeal's judgments may be found on the Ministry of Justice's 'Judicial Decisions Online' website at this link:


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