Customary Rules for Gathering Fish for Hui and Tangi
17 March 2003
Conditions applying to Customary Maori fishing are to be revised following a review during 2002.
A new Conditions Notice pursuant to Regulation 27 of the Amateur Fishing Regulations will come into effect on 30 April 2003 and is aimed at clearing up any confusion for tangata whenua, fishers, the Ministry of Fisheries (MFish), and to prevent Regulation 27 being used as a screen for illegal fishing.
Regulation 27 provides for the taking of fish for the purposes of a hui, or a tangi and applies to all fish species managed by the Ministry of Fisheries, but not to freshwater fish such as trout or whitebait, which are managed by other Government departments or agencies.
Regulation 27 will continue to be the only mechanism for taking freshwater fish for customary purposes (such as eels and lamprey in the North and Chatham Islands), even after the more comprehensive Kaimoana fishing regulations are put in place. Until either the Kaimoana or South Island Customary Fishing Regulations are implemented, Regulation 27 of the Fisheries (Amateur Fishing) Regulations 1986 will apply to all customary fishing.
The new conditions have been extensively discussed with iwi, in a consultation process starting in May last year, and where possible, MFish has incorporated suggestions made by iwi during the consultation process. The focus of the conditions are to provide a framework for conservation of the fisheries and to protect customary fishing rights.
- Authorisations will only be issued for times within a 48 hour period. If fishing is not possible on the nominated date, a fresh approval must be sought. Previously, a range of dates could be given, and the authorisation could be used more than once. Tightening up on the dates will inhibit potential abuse.
- Customary fishers must carry authorisations with them at all times, whether fishing or transporting customary catch. This will mean Fisheries Officers can verify the authoriser and authorisation details, which should limit the opportunity for abuse.
- Authorisations can only be issued for fishing in an area where the issuer has manawhenua notification of authorised agents to fish. This should limit problems with authorisations issued from an area not linked to coastline or an area of take.
- All those taking part in the harvesting must be identified. In the past, claims of association have been difficult for Fishery Officers to verify.
- Authorisations must be in a Ministry of Fisheries approved format. In the past some non-standard forms have not provided for all the required information and sometimes have not been numbered, providing an opportunity for issuing retrospective authorisations to cover poaching.
- Authorisations can only be issued by representatives of a Marae Committee, Maori Committee, Runanga or Trust Board.
- Authorisations must state the fish species that may be taken, and specify the quantity of fish as greenweight, or as numbers of individual fish or shellfish, rather than as a container suggested by the authorised agent or fishers. For instance, "sacks" can no longer be specified, since "sacks" come in a wide range of sizes.
- A specific place of landing must be stated to avoid conflict with areas subject to the Fisheries (Kaimoana Customary Fishing) Regulations 1998 and the South Island Customary Regulations.
- The date and address of the event (hui or tangi) to which the authorisation relates must be given in order to help verify the legitimacy of a hui or tangi, and the delivery of the authorised harvest. It has been difficult to check the legitimacy of claimed events when the venue is given as a general area with no other particulars.
- The authorising agent is able to complete conditions relating to size of fish, and fishing methods that may be used. Actual quantities taken can be notified to Authorising Agent.
- Unattended customary fishing gear must be identified with the authorisation number so it can be distinguished from other fishing gear. Fishery Officers have experienced difficulty identifying customary fishing gear, and have uplifted it, only to find out later that it was being legitimately used.
Breaking the provisions of Regulation 27 can result in penalties of up to $10,000, and up to $20,000 for some species and quantities. Infringement fees of up to $500 can also apply. Fishing of a commercial nature, for financial gain or trade, will be subject to the provisions of the Fisheries Act, which allows for forfeiture of property and fines of up to $250,000.
For further information please contact
Neville Buckley, Manager Non-Commercial, Ministry of Fisheries
Telephone 07 574 5107, or 021 900 634
Or call 0800 36 77 85