GOVT SUPPORTS RECREATIONAL FISHERS
25 May 2001
New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council president Steve Penn has made an understandable mistake with his claim today that the Government is giving environmental groups special and favourable treatment in fisheries management processes," says Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson.
"Mr Penn has assumed, wrongly, that the Government will be paying salary or wage costs to environmental groups. In fact the Government is treating environmental groups in exactly the same way as the NZ Recreational Fishing Council has been treated.
"Recreational Fishing Council members were involved in the joint working group with Ministry of Fisheries officials that produced the Soundings discussion document on options for the future management of recreational fishing. That document, released last year, generated historic levels of public interest and the Government is currently considering its response.
"In a separate initiative the Ministry is about to begin developing an Environmental Management Strategy. Up to $50,000 will be made available within the Ministry's baseline funding to support their participation in that process. This is comparable in every respect to the $60,000 spent to cover some of the costs of NZ Recreational Fishing Council members' participation in the Soundings process.
"In addition there is a distinct likelihood that recreational fishing representatives will receive further recompense for participation in the next stage of developing policy on recreational fisheries policy. That is not reflected in the Budget because it is expected to come from baseline funding and because the terms of engagement with the recreational sector for the next stage are still being finalised.
"I have spoken with Mr Penn today and he now better understands the Government's position," Mr Hodgson said.
"It is ironic that the origin of this misunderstanding lies with misleading claims by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters about Government support for recreational fishers. This Government is strongly committed to strengthening recreational fishing rights, while Mr Peters as Treasurer declined recreational fishers any financial assistance whatsoever, despite promising them $100,000 in pre-election policy and the National-NZ First coalition agreement."