Waikato-Tainui take on joint fishery management
15 September 2011
A new era in fisheries management starts on 22 September when regulations providing for joint government and iwi management of fishstocks in the lower Waikato River come into effect.
The regulations enact the fisheries agreements of the Waikato-Tainui Raupatu Claims (Waikato River) Settlement Act 2010.
MAF Director-General Wayne McNee says they meet the Ministry’s commitment in its fisheries work plan to develop meaningful co-management arrangements with Maori.
“The regulations enable Waikato-Tainui to manage non-commercial customary fishing on the lower Waikato River,” Mr McNee said. “The trustees of the Waikato-Tainui Raupatu River Trust and appointed kaitiaki (customary fishing authorisers) will be able to issue customary fishing authorisations.”
Under the regulations, the Trust can also recommend bylaws to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture that may restrict fishing on the lower Waikato River in order to ensure long-term sustainability of fishstocks or for cultural reasons.
“Otherwise commercial and recreational fishing can continue undisturbed on the Waikato River,” Mr McNee said.
MAF formed a joint working group with Waikato-Tainui to develop the regulations, consulting with affected River stakeholders between May and July this year. The proposed regulations were approved by Cabinet in August.
The Ministry will lead compliance with the new regulations, and will also be involved with training, record keeping and administration.
The regulations apply to that part of the Waikato River from Karapiro to the River mouth, including the tributaries, streams and watercourses that flow into that part of the river; and the lakes, wetlands and banks of water bodies along the way.
The key fishery in the lower Waikato River is freshwater eels. Commercial fishers fish out of Port Waikato for species such as mullet and flatfish. Port Waikato is also a popular recreational fishing area.