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Kahawai Bag Limit Changes Irrelevant

Kahawai Bag Limit Changes Irrelevant

“Totally irrelevant” is the response from option4’s Trish Rea to the Minister of Fisheries announcement that there will be no change to recreational bag limits for kahawai. “David Benson-Pope has still failed to allow for the public’s interests as he is obliged to do by law.”

It is not surprising the Minister has rejected the notion of decreasing the bag limit. The level of the kahawai allocation granted by the Minister to the commercial sector will mean less kahawai for recreational fishers and little chance of them achieving a bag limit catch.

“What we need is a rebuild of our second most popular recreational species”, says the option4 spokesperson. “You cannot catch what isn’t there” she goes on to add. “Mr Benson – Pope knows that, the Ministry of Fisheries knows that, and we know it.”

Fishing representative organisations the NZ Big Game Fishing Council, the NZ Recreational Fishing Council, the NZ Angling and Casting Association and option4 are mounting a combined court challenge to the Minister’s August decisions regarding the Total Allowable Catch and allocation of kahawai.

“Catch limits are meaningless if there are so few fish to catch,” adds New Zealand Big Game Fishing Council’s President Jeff Romeril.

option4 is concerned the Minister now states “the new research will allow us to make robust decisions on issues like this.” It would have been preferable if the Minister had initiated the research before allocation decisions were made. “The situation now is that quota rights have been given to commercial fishers without knowing the full extent of current catch. It does not make sense to hand over perpetual property rights without full understanding of the stock size, continues Rea. Compensation issues could conceivably cloud the Minister’s future judgement, which is not ideal when discussing a species of such importance not only to fishers but to the whole marine ecosystem,” she advises.

“We are determined to have the kahawai decisions reviewed in the interests of the public and our future generations. The well-documented traditional catches of kahawai by Maori will only recover if more fish are left in the sea. Recreational fishers also want an abundant kahawai fishery and we intend working together to achieve the outcomes we seek.”

The Minister believes he has made his latest decision in the interests of fairness. We question when the Minister is going to have regard to his obligations under the Fisheries Act where non-commercial interests have to be allowed for and not taken as an after-thought.

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