Future Catch Report – Questions & Answers
29 August 2017
New Zealand’s fisheries are owned by the public of New Zealand and managed by the Crown for the
benefit of all New Zealanders. The New Zealand Sport Fishing Council, the New Zealand Angling and Casting Association, LegaSea and its supporters are opposed to attempts to privatise our fisheries. We must restore depleted fish stocks and protect access to our fisheries for future generations. A report, ‘The Future Catch – Preserving recreational fisheries for the next generation’ was released on August 1st, 2017. The document is the third in a series that seeks to influence government policy on the future of fisheries management in New Zealand. The report creates a picture of population growth leading to unrelenting pressure on fisheries resources due to increased recreational fishing. The report offers six policy recommendations that will be presented to the new government by the end of 2017. What’s wrong with the report?
The report is sponsored by business interests and proposes fundamental changes to nature of our
recreational fishing rights. It promotes further privatisation of catch entitlements to allow trading with
commercial quota holders in a national resource, at the expense of our public fishing interests. The
report is presented as being concerned with protecting recreational fishing yet the “solutions” solely
benefit commercial quota shareholders. The “solutions” of integration into the Quota Management
System, licensing and proportional catch shares are well-worn arguments that have been roundly
rejected by the public and politicians for decades.
How will recreational fishing rights be diminished?
If implemented, existing commercial quota holders will have their rights enhanced and public fishing will become a minor shareholding in most fisheries we care about. Market trading rather than Ministerial discretion will then determine public access to our fisheries. Greater restrictions on public fishing will be required to fit recreational fishing within a fixed, collective quota, and licensing will be required to monitor recreational harvest.
How do commercial interests view the report?
There is strong support for the report’s proposals from corporate fishing interests. This is fair indication that the rent seeking quota holders have their eye on new wealth at the expense of our recreational fishing future. Is it true that recreational fishing is growing out of control?
Research by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the National Institute of Water and
Atmospheric Research (NIWA) shows that overall participation in recreational fishing is stable despite recent population growth.
Future Catch – Q & A. LegaSea. www.legasea.co.nz 29 August 2017. 2
How much fish do recreational fishers take?
Excluding aquaculture, recreational fishing represents –
a. Less than 3% of the total harvest from New Zealand’s marine waters.
b. Less than 20% of total harvest from the inshore fisheries in which the public has an interest.
c. Less than 10% of total harvest from the inshore fisheries in which the public has an interest and
when snapper and kahawai are excluded.
Recreational harvest has a significant impact in some shellfish fisheries and a few inshore finfish stocks such as snapper and kahawai on the northeast coast of the North Island, and blue cod at the top of the South Island. Most other inshore fish stocks are dominated by commercial harvest.
Existing controls have proven to be effective in managing recreational harvest. Generally, harvest is less than the allowance set aside by the Minister to provide for recreational fishing.
What are the underlying reasons for conflict?
We have a Quota Management System that incentivises commercial overfishing, fish dumping and
misreporting of catch. We have a captured Ministry, a paralysed management system now dominated by a handful of corporate quota owning rent takers, and fishing undertaken using archaic, destructive,bottom trawling methods that are incredibly damaging to the marine environment. There is little incentive for change.
Over recent times the commercial fishing industry has increasingly come under the spotlight from
academics, the media and LegaSea due to damning revelations of fish dumping, waste, and a failure by the Ministry for Primary Industries to perform. Corporate fishing interests have responded with
substantial media publicity campaigns in an endeavour to repair their badly damaged public profile.
So what’s the solution?
Restoring the abundance of fish in inshore waters will help reduce the inter-sector conflict described in the report. From a management perspective, we don’t have all the answers. Only a Royal Commission of Inquiry will be able to unravel the mysteries and seek potential solutions.
LegaSea is promoting several policies to restore New Zealand’s inshore fisheries to abundant levels and return the marine environment to a more productive ecosystem. Those policies are in a Manifesto and are summarised as:
1. Establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry into fisheries management and the Quota Management
2. Amend the Fisheries Act 1996 to include an Allocation Principle.
3. Remove industrial fishing methods such as trawling, seining and dredging from the inshore zone.
4. Establish a separate, well-resourced Ministry of Fisheries.
5. Amend section 13 of the Fisheries Act 1996 to replace the minimum stock target of BMSY with a
minimum biomass target of B0.5, that is, 50% of the unfished stock size.
Future Catch – Q & A. LegaSea. www.legasea.co.nz 29 August 2017. 3
Why a Royal Commission of Inquiry?
A Royal Commission of Inquiry is needed to fully investigate the way our fisheries are managed. An
independent examination would enable the full story of New Zealand’s fisheries management to be
impartially told. It would be able to gather evidence from people inside the Quota Management System who currently cannot or will not give their stories without the promise of immunity from prosecution or persecution.
What does proportional allocation mean?
Proportional allocation means integration and privatisation – integrating public fishing into the Quota
Management System and privatising fisheries so that commercial quota shareholders have stronger
rights to our fisheries. Those stronger rights are achieved by downgrading public fishing interests and putting commercial interests on an equal footing when it comes to allocation decisions. Proportional allocation wrongly assumes that only fishers have an interest in each fish stock or the environment in which they live, clearly this is untrue. The community has a stake in abundant fisheries and a healthy marine environment so there must be the ability to conserve fish for non-extractive uses. What’s wrong with proportional allocation?
Proportional allocation means greater restrictions on recreational fishing. Ballots, reduced daily bag
limits, closed fisheries, penalties and licensing are common controls in a proportional system.
Currently, the Minister decides the Total Allowable Catch then sets aside allowances for both the
mortality associated with fishing and to provide for non-commercial fishing interests. These interests
must be allowed for before the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) is set. Under a proportional share arrangement, the allowance for public fishing would change to an allocation and be considered in conjunction with the TACC.
Proportional allocation means no account is given to the effects of bulk harvesting fishing methods that diminish the availability of fish inshore for recreational fishers. If public harvest declines the uncaught shares may be gifted to commercial interests, in perpetuity. If public fishing increases and more quota is required there will need to be a mechanism to enter the market and buy back quota from commercial interests. There is no guarantee that there will be quota available or sufficient funds for these transactions unless licensing is imposed.
What’s wrong with licensing?
New Zealanders have a right to go fishing. Licensing represents an additional tax on fishers. Recreational fishing generates at least $188 million in taxes for the government every year. Recreational fishingalready ‘pays its way’ while contributing substantially to the common good of all New Zealanders. MPI and some politicians have already ruled out licensing, acknowledging implementation costs would outweigh the benefits. Over 100,000 people rejected licensing when it was last proposed in 2000-01. About 25% of recreational fishers are Māori and it is unclear how licensing would impact on traditional fishing rights. Any attempts to licence some fishers and not others on the basis of race will create a frenzy. Future Catch – Q & A. LegaSea. www.legasea.co.nz 29 August 2017. 4 What’s wrong with a peak body?
Peak bodies that are reliant on government support and funding cannot be independent, they would be expected to comply with government policies and use funding for specific purposes thereby diluting available funds for advocacy.
A peak body also puts a barrier between the Minister and the public. Currently the Minister has a
statutory duty to consult with the public and provide for the input and participation of tangata whenua
who have a non-commercial interest in fisheries and the effects of fishing on the marine environment.
If a peak body is not seen as adding value recreational fishers will not contribute to its existence by
paying for a licence or fee to fish.
The New Zealand Sport Fishing Council is the largest representative organisation of recreational fishersin the country with over 32,000 members. An increasing number of fishers and concerned New Zealanders are voluntarily supporting the independent and effective advocacy, education, public
awareness and research delivered through local clubs, the NZSFC, the New Zealand Angling and Casting Association, and LegaSea.
What next? Between now and the election the report’s author, Randall Bess, is travelling the country talking with recreational fishers about the proposals. The report will then be presented to the new government by the end of 2017
Future Catch Report – Questions & Answers