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Concern Fuels Interest In Fisheries Conference

Widespread Maori Concern Fuels Interest In Fisheries Conference

MEDIA RELEASE 29 MARCH 2007

Widespread Maori concern - and disappointment - over the Government's proposals to "share" fisheries at the expense of an agreement between Maori and the Crown has boosted interest in the second Maori fisheries conference next month.

With more than 200 registrations so far, mostly from iwi representatives and members of commercial and recreational fishing interests, Treaty Tribes Acting Chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana says he expects more people to register before the conference opens on Sunday 1 April.

Hosted by Treaty Tribes and Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated, Te Matau a Maui (Maui's hook) builds on the successful fisheries conference hosted in Napier in 2006. This year's theme will be "Kanohi ki te Kanohi - Face to Face".

"The shared fisheries debate where the government is proposing to take quota from one sector - the commercial fishing sector - and give to another - the recreational sector - has stirred many Maori into attending our conference to learn more," Mr Tomoana said.

"It's an issue where Maori fear an agreement made with the Crown will be undermined and devalued, and we see this problem as something that could be resolved kanohi ki te kanohi.

"In the end, only those fishing on the water can give you improved management. Fishers have to believe in the systems to make them work. So it is important that we all sit down and agree on programmes and measures that will ensure these fisheries remain in a healthy state for our mokopuna."

Mr Tomoana said representatives from all sectors of New Zealand's fisheries will provide views and information on shared fisheries, and "hopefully, we'll be able to join together on a path ahead as we develop rights-based fisheries to take Aotearoa into the future."

"No sector likes the proposals in the Government's Shared Fisheries document, but all agree that we need to embark on a process to quantify the level of take from each sector before we look at sharing the resource."

Mr Tomoana said the conference will be "a who's who of the New Zealand fishing industry with representatives from every significant iwi seafood business in the country."

Other topics up for discussion include marine reserves and the benefits of mataitai, bottom trawl fishing, the economics of Maori fishing,

"We look forward to active engagement from a number of MPs - both Maori and Pakeha. Maori have effective control of between one third and one half of the entire commercial fishing industry. The significance of this conference to the wider New Zealand seafood industry is huge," Mr Tomoana said.

ends

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