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Open Letter To Hon David Carter

9 November 2007

Hon David Carter
Primary Production Select Committee
Parliament Buildings

Tena koe David,

An Open Letter to the Chairman of the Primary Production Select Committee
regarding Section 10, Fisheries Amendment Bill

We write to you as chairman of Te Runanga a Iwi o Ngapuhi and member of the
Hokianga Accord; as chairman of Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated, and as
chairperson of Ngati Whatua.

We are deeply disturbed the Primary Production Select Committee has allowed
Government proposals to amend Section 10 of the Fisheries Act 1993 to be
reported back to Parliament. Even though the amendment has not been
supported by some members of the Select Committee, it was not enough to stop
the Labour Party members from gaining the upper hand and reporting it back
to Parliament.

The Ministry of Fisheries' zealots continue to promote this piece of flawed
legislation despite opposition to it from many iwi around the country, as
well as others in the commercial and recreational sectors, including the
Seafood Industry Council and the pre-eminent Maori fisheries organisation,
Te Ohu Kaimoana. The Ministry continues to push this and ignore the role of
iwi in the shared decision-making process.

Our opposition arises from the fact that this piece of proposed legislation
is not necessary. It will not improve the Quota Management System and it is
not needed to ensure sustainability of New Zealand's important fishstocks.

Secondly, we are concerned that this issue is not popular enough or is too
complex for the media and therefore has not been properly reported to the
wider public of New Zealand. This Bill needs proper public scrutiny and not
merely communicated through choreographed sound bites out of the Minister's
office to quell opposition and keep the public in the dark. The public of
New Zealand deserve better especially when it is blatantly apparent that
Kiwis have the utmost confidence in the Quota Management System, and have
done so for more than 20 years.

Mr Anderton's proposed changes to the law mean that where there is
uncertainty due to lack of information those who are making quota management
decisions must act only to ensure sustainability. It is being changed so
that decision-makers do not have to consider the impacts of other areas -
the economic, social, cultural, aspects of the decision-making process. This
is wrong and, we believe, goes against the spirit of the Act.

We make informed decisions on the basis of the science. We act in a manner
that protects fisheries species while allowing for utilisation - the aim and
purpose of the Fisheries Act. The current Act requires that the Minister
only provide for the level of utilisation at which he will still ensure
sustainability. He sets that level after considering all of the other
factors involved. This discipline ensures that the relationship between
sustainability of fishstocks and the effects of utilisation on those stocks
are fully considered. Taking the utilisation factors out of the full
purpose of the Act will reduce the discipline that has kept us at the
forefront of fisheries management around the world.

The Fisheries Act is currently in line with the internationally recognised
principle of a precautionary approach. The proposed amendments will,
contrary to claims made by the Minister and his environmental supporters,
make the Act inconsistent with those international principles.

We are well aware of the issue of sustainability of New Zealand's important
fishstocks. So is the Minister, who in September this year drastically cut
some fishstocks because the science wasn't available to support utilisation
at the previous level of catch. He has the necessary powers now to ensure
sustainability and he exercises these. These proposals to amend Section 10
are being pushed by Ministry zealots who want more power, not because of any
sustainability issues.

We thank those members of the Select Committee who have taken a common sense
approach to this Bill and opposed the Minister's changes. We hope that those
members make their views known to Parliament and do what they can to ensure
that this Bill goes no further.

Hei kona

Sonny Tau Ngahiwi Tomoana Naida
Chairperson Chairperson
Ngapuhi Ngati Kahungunu Ngati Whatua
(103,000 members) (53,000 members)
(13,000 members)


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