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Fish And Game Review Opportunity For Positive Change?

A former president of the Professional Fishing Guides Association sees the proposal to review Fish and Game as an opportunity to effect positive change.

“It would be wise to see what the Department of Conservation has in the way of plans to reform Fish and Game before having a fixed position on the subject,” said Frank Murphy of Gisborne. “The outcome may be in line with the aims and wishes of the likes of the New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers and grass roots anglers. There would not be many rank and file anglers and duck shooters who would disagree with taking a second look at the original legislation setting up Fish and Game.”

Trout fishing was a public sport and was a major participation one said Frank Murphy who was a trout fishing guide and fishing lodge owner for many years and served 25 years as president of the New Zealand Professional Fishing Guides Association.

“There are more fishermen-women, in New Zealand in freshwater and saltwater recreational fishing than participants in any other sport. A good example is, that in a sparsely populated area like Gisborne, there are over 3,000 trout licences sold every season.”

Political Clout

This had political ramifications in terms of votes that should make any government or political parties wary of trying to implement state control.

“In fact from conversations there are some who say just scrap Fish and Game with its statutory obligation to the Minister and get the Department of Conservation (DOC) and any other government agencies completely out of trout and salmon fishing both recreational and commercial and go back to the structure of the acclimatisation societies - the predecessor of fish and game organisation.”

Frank Murphy said he believed the former acclimatisation society system had greater merit over the current fish and game one.

“There must be a viable alternative and I believe it’s simple - turn the clock back. A return to the original Acclimatisation Societies for each region, I believe, is the answer. Membership would be voluntary, But each region would be financially viable,” he said.

Some Fine People

During his tenure of over 25 years with the fishing guides association Frank Murphy was in frequent discussions with the NZ Fish and Game head office and several departments of the Department of Conservation. There were some fine people involved that had to be acknowledged and he cited Robert Sowman of Fish and Game NZ and Bev Abbot of the Department of Conservation. But there were others, bureaucratic in nature, who were difficult to work with and working towards a tourist licence for visiting overseas anglers was a frustrating exercise.

“No one wanted a bar of the guides association’s concept of a tourist licence. In a review this should be revisited. It’s a winner,” said Frank Murphy.

The guides association accrued money with greatly increased membership.

“They then had the money and the political clout came with that and thus political influence,” recalled Frank Murphy. “We achieved political influence and at an AGM held in Christchurch, were three cabinet ministers.”

“Since those days things have changed and some will never return to how they were. It is important the Federation and Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations (CORANZ) and like-minded outdoors men and women strive to turn the proposed review of fish and game to advantage, hopefully more akin to the workings of the old acclimatisation society model. It is really not that difficult given a will and some wisdom,” he said.

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