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Maori and recreational fishing plan a united front

Maori and recreational fishing interests plan a united front

Maori and recreational fishing interests have joined forces to restore access for all New Zealanders to the nation’s marine environment. Iwi affiliates and representatives from Ngapuhi (New Zealand’s biggest iwi) Whangaroa, Te Rarawa, Ngati Whatua, also representatives from the New Zealand Big Game Fishing Council, the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council and option4 (a group of concerned fishing public, clubs and individuals) attended a recent hui at Whitiora marae in Northland.

“More fish in the water” was the hui’s theme.

The hui was convened to discuss how best to address non-commercial fishing interests to achieve the goal of rebuilding New Zealand’s inshore shared fisheries, following years of mismanagement under the quota system. Said Sonny Tau, the Chairman of Te Runanga A Iwi O Ngapuhi: “It was a hui of huge significance. The Ministry of Fisheries has done an excellent job of fooling Maori into thinking that our rights to fish have been catered for under the customary fisheries regulations.

“This is far from the truth. The Ministry has created, in law, three categories of fishers - customary, recreational and commercial.

“Customary fishers are those who collect seafood for a hui mate (tangi) or an occasion of great significance, but it must be accompanied by a permit.

“Only a very small percentage of Maori apply for customary fishing permits.

“When we fish to feed our babies, MFish has categorised that as recreational fishing”

“Those attending the hui were adamant that we must work in unison to achieve the objective of more fish in the water for the million New Zealanders who fish for food in the sea.” Mr Tau also said the preference debate needed a public airing.

Where a fishery had been depleted through excessive commercial fishing and a reduction in the amount of fish caught was needed, this reduction must be to the commercial take, not customary or recreational catch.

This is what was promised in 1986 with the introduction of the quota management system.

“Although commercial quota is held on behalf of Ngapuhi, it is the ability to have kai - fish - on our tables for our babies and mokopuna that matters most. Said Ngapuhi Kaumatua Andy Sarich: “The blame for the depletion of fish stocks can unequivocally be placed at the feet of the Minister and Ministry of Fisheries”.

He quotes an old whakatauki (proverb): Te kai atihau, he kai totonui. The food of life is preservation, seeding that will sustain continuity. A recreational fishing representative, Scott Macindoe said: “We went up North to compare notes with Ngapuhi about our non-commercial fishing interests, driven by our frustration at having to work within such a commercially biased fisheries management regime.

“We came home filled with hope, having heard first hand from Ngapuhi leaders that they have the same concerns and frustrations.

“It was clear our non-commercial fishing interests are, by and large, the same and we are planning a united front.”


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