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Protecting fish and fishers

Letter

Re: A few fishy tales there, February 5 letter.

We remain amazed to see a letter to your respected paper from Craig Miller blatantly misrepresenting the facts on various fisheries matters.

For the record:

The Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash cut the tarakihi TACC by 20 percent in 2018 and a further 10 percent last year. Mr Nash said “the 10 percent additional cut for tarakihi is supported by scientific evidence that the abundance of tarakihi in the east coast is and remains very low”.

Mr Miller goes on to support larger companies increasing their quota shares in rock lobster above set levels.

After observing how the majority of the finfish quota was able to be transitioned into the exclusive ownership of virtually nine companies after the introduction of the QMS system in 1986, the rock lobster industry and this council were concerned that we could see a repeat of this practice that would further reduce quota ownership in our small coastal ports.

The aggregation and accumulation of the finfish quota into the hands of corporates and banks effectively destroyed many small coastal fishing communities who relied on fishing as part of the local economy.

Which is why the 10 percent maximum aggregation in any one rock lobster fishery was introduced by the Minister. It was in part to protect small fishermen from being forced out, unable to compete with the corporate dollars.

Mr Miller goes on to suggest the NZ Recreational Fishing Council is defunct, and further castigates our local representative Alain Jorion. But given that Mr Miller, an ex commercial fisherman, is not a member, what would he know?

I can assure you that the NZRFC is both active, alive and well. This council has been actively representing the people of Gisborne on recreational fishing concerns for many, many years and continues to do so. We can also advise that Alain Jorion has been and remains your staunchest recreational fishing advocate for over a decade and should be recognised and thanked for his years of service.

Finally, it is clear that Mr Miller's comments are consistent with being an industry stool pigeon — no further comment.

Keith Ingram, President,

NZ Recreational Fishing Council

  1. Craig Miller says:

    Keith, not sure why you think I have misrepresented the facts here.
    I disagreed with Alain’s comment because recreationally we have always had a very good tarakihi fishery, regardless of cuts. While commercial quota saw reductions, if stocks are so low why were no such reductions made to recreational daily bag limits?
    Keith, at no point did I say I support any large company. Fact of that matter is small operators have a chance to buy any available quota that comes on to the market. But if they can’t afford to, and let’s face it crayfish quota can sell for many hundreds of thousands of dollars, then who should? The Government (can’t see that happening), iwi (they already have exemption status), or should the seller just give it away? Here’s a thought, why don’t recreational advocacy groups buy it then retire it for the sake of recreational?
    The Quota Management System (QMS) has been existence for 30-odd years and while it may have flaws for today’s climate, no one has come up with a better solution or replacement for it.
    Keith mentions that the transition of finfish quota is held by nine companies and has effectively destroyed many small coastal fishing communities who relied on fishing as part of the local economy.
    While this may have some element of truth, what they don’t tell you is that a lot of small operators who held quota after the introduction of the QMS sold out to these companies because some saw it as a quick way to become financially secure; some were at the end of their fishing careers. So I believe the situation we find ourselves in cannot be solely laid at the hands of corporates.
    If the NZ Recreational Fishing Council isn’t defunct, please enlighten me to the contrary. At best it appears to be held together by two people, Keith Ingram and Alain Jorion. The only bit of information I could find says that NZRFC couldn’t manage a quorum at its last two AGMs; it went on to say the organisation is in difficulty. Sounds like it’s bordering on being defunct.
    If Alain is said to represent the interests of local recreational fishers, publicly we see no evidence of this. What we do see is constant letters to the paper ranting about the inequalities between recreational and commercial — one man’s private crusade. I would be interested to know just what successes NZRFC has had on behalf of recreational fishers, for Gisborne fishers — and I don’t just mean placing submissions before Government.
    I may be ex-commercial but that doesn’t have any bearing on my opinions, perhaps except that having been on both sides of the fence lets me see things differently to those who sit on one side only, without understanding the other side.
    One underlying factor to these advocacy groups who are said to represent recreational fishers that gets me riled is the constant driving of a wedge between recreational and commercial fishers. I don’t see these groups targeting iwi interests, why is that?
    There are at least three advocacy groups who say they represent recreational fishers, and while they all want the same thing, they can’t actually agree as to whose organisation is better suited to representing recreational. Moreover, I suspect egos get in the way rather than what’s good for our fishery.
    Understand this: we have a shared fishery — recreational, commercial, iwi and customary — and we all need to work together for the betterment of our fishery.
    Lastly, I am no stool pigeon for any industry. My comments are purely my own.

  2. Bob Hughes says:

    Craig Miller hit the nail on the head, “… recreational and commercial fishers . . . want the same thing” (their good share of fish). But to me it is not that “we all need to work together for the betterment of our fishery”, but working together for the betterment of fish and oceans should be the first of our priorities.