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Fish And Game Review Proposals Undemocratic

Hunters and fishers would largely be deprived from participation and management of their sports body, NZ Fish and Game, if recommendations contained in a recently released Government-instigated review of their organisation are adopted, states the New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers (NZFFA).

“It takes out the heart of ‘user-pays/user says’,” says NZFFA president Dr Peter Trolove.

The review proposes control being passed to the Minister of Conservation and the Department of Conservation (DOC).

“This so-called ‘independent’ review, called for by former Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage, highlights a glaring conflict of interest within a government department in which many see their role solely as conservators of New Zealand’s indigenous species – while condemning trout and salmon as ‘introduced predators’. Ironically DOC has a very poor record in managing and conserving New Zealand’s native fish,” Dr Trolove says.

The review recommends that an elected or appointed salaried chair of NZ Fish and Game (NZFGC) should head and control the implementation of the review.

The present chair of the NZFGC Ray Grubb told Radio NZ the organisation itself would now be implementing the recommendations of the review with the agreed approval of Environment Minister David Parker.

“The minister has endorsed that approach by recognising that I will continue as chair of Fish and Game, and that Fish and Game will actually put in place the report itself rather than have it directed by the Department of Conservation,” Grubb says - maintaining he is the right person to lead the changes.

Trolove says that could be viewed as a dictatorial undemocratic process being forced upon a sports organisation financed entirely by the annual licence fees that are paid for by individual fishers and hunters.

“The New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers demand that licence holders and Fish and Game regional councillors have the opportunity to discuss and vote as to whether they accept the review and current Fish and Game chair’s intentions. Anything less would smack of dictatorship and a Government takeover of a member-financed sports body.”

The review’s proposed changes of government appointees occupying previously elected council seats, both nationally and regionally, would be seen by many as an agenda of government takeover, not unlike the government’s seizure of Environment Canterbury back in 2009, Trolove says.

“This governance review is weak on positive governance recommendations. Diminishing democratic participation isn’t improved governance,” he says.

Trolove says democracy has been a hallmark of Fish and Game to make it fully effective an automatic "opt-in" registration of all licence holders to vote in Fish and Game elections should be implemented.

Currently on buying a licence an angler or shooter has to signify separately, his or her, wish to be an eligible voter.

“Plus we would want more regular public consultation, especially on controversial topics like water policy or sustainable tourism”, he adds

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