On Monday evening I travelled to Wellington and attended the Dr Randall Bess’ presentation of his final paper for the NZ Initiative regarding “The Future Catch” to the Minister of Fisheries, the Hon. Stuart Nash.
Let me start with one of the questions raised by Jeff Simmons of Gareth Morgan’s TOP Party. It was quite direct and put to Bob Gutsell, Vice President of the NZ Sport Fishing Council. It was in line with Bob’s assertion that the Minister must have the final discretion as to how our fish stocks are allocated. “ He challenged Bob as to whether he really could rely on the so called 600,000 recreational fishers to back the Council if there was a need take an issue to the Minister. Today looking at facebook, listening to the radio and also television, I am wishing I had challenged him to give it a go. You do not attack the recreational fishers of New Zealand.
The room had more than its share of MPI and Industry along with a noticeable amount of well dressed non fishers. MPI and Industry at us again, how unususal.
I had read the report from start to finish and have to admit it was a hard read. Especially when I was left more than a little angry and very disappointed in the whole section that attacked LegaSea. It was all emotive rhetoric and had no validity. I was in the room when the so called “Brag” was made. In the room when most of the statements Bess mischievously refers to actually. I cannot, in all fairness comprehend how he lowered himself to report it that way and told him so. It was a huge distraction. As I commented to him, you almost had me across the line on some of your opinion but you have lost me at this time.
As for the report overall. I have to be quite clear in that there is so much of this report that could have some merit. I say that, tongue in cheek, The reason being, while many are looking and reading too much into some of the recommendations, my personal belief is there is no benefit to get involved at all in any of it. Sure, if there is to be a “Peak Body” sometime in the future, the NZ Angling & Casting need to be there. Proportionality is a no go no matter what supposed safety net gets put in place. There is no place for the recreational allocation to become part of QMS. I truly feel that this is Industry driven and those Industry leaders in attendance certainly gave that impression.
Jeremy Helson, Fin Fish NZ, questioned the belief that recreational fishers had first right to stocks (that is after the sea itself and Customary entitlement) and Tim Pankhurst, Seafood NZ, asked when will the recreational sector take up catch reporting so that a figure can be put on their take. Well Tim, another poor effort from you and an attack on the work done by Bruce Hartill of NIWA and the comprehensive detail used to arrive at the total catch of me and mine. When Bob Gutsall responded with “it already is”, it was met with a “no it’s not” from someone in the front, well yes it is. Take some ownership of your own backyard Timmy and throwing your mess over the fence is not a solution.
I don’t support the majority of the report. By way of Bess’s own recorded attendances at his public meetings and NZ wide survey, it would seem no one does and today the majority are being just as vocal against it. I totally agree with Sir Mark Solomon that the only way forward is to have all parties in the room and thrash out a solution. The current problem with that is, Industry will not accept any hurt and will not give anything that may mean losing what they see as a right.
I feel the Minister has a grasp on what will be of the highest benefit to all and will rule accordingly.
In conclusion, could have been, should have been, for all the money spent. NZ Initiative you commissioned it, you own it.