Amateur Fishing Ministerial Advisory Committee
Minutes of meeting held on 11 April 2008
12:00 – 4:45pm, Ministry of Fisheries, Wellington
Hon Jim Anderton, Minister of Fisheries (Chair, 12:00-1:30pm)
Wayne McNee, Chief Executive, Ministry of Fisheries (Chair, 1:30- 4:45pm))
Anna Falloon, Private Secretary (Fisheries), Office of Jim Anderton (12:00 -1:30pm)
Terry Lynch, Policy Manager, Ministry of Fisheries (1:45 – 3:00pm)
Jonathan Rudge, Acting Policy Manager, Ministry of Fisheries
Peter Schroder, Manager Inshore Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries (1:00 - 1:45pm and 3:45 – 4:45pm)
Benesia Smith, Policy Manager, Ministry of Justice (1:45 – 2:30pm)
Thomas Parry, Policy Analyst, Ministry of Justice (1:45 – 2:30pm)
Devona Adams, Senior Fisheries Advisor, Ministry of Fisheries
Edwin Massey, Policy Analyst, Ministry of Fisheries
Agenda Item 1:
Welcome, recap previously agreed actions and confirm agenda - (Minister of Fisheries)
The Minister welcomed Committee members to the seventh AFMAC meeting and moved to discuss agenda Item 2. Following the Minister’s departure at 1:30pm, Wayne McNee confirmed the remaining items of business and that the agreed actions listed in the minutes of the previous meeting had been completed.
Kim Walshe requested that Committee members’ supplementary advice to the Minister on the Amateur Fishing Trust be distributed to Committee members.
Agreed: MFish to distribute Committee members’ supplementary advice to the Minister on the Amateur Fishing Trust to Committee members.
Agenda Item 2:
Discussion on progress in the joint working group process for improving shared fisheries management - (Minister of Fisheries/ Committee Members)
The Minister introduced this agenda item by outlining that he had agreed to the joint working group’s proposal to delay their report back until June 30 2008. He explained that it was not practical for the working group to report back to him with meaningful progress by the proposed date of April 30 2008.
Kim Walshe, the amateur representative on the joint working group, stated that the initial working group meetings had been positive and progress was being made to resolve issues. Geoff Rowling explained that the joint stakeholder working group acknowledged there was a need to improve amateur fishers’ capacity to participate in fisheries management processes. He also explained how the joint working group agreed that more work needed to be done to clarify the relative rights of different fishing sectors.
The Minister expressed his frustration at the lack of progress in shared fisheries reform to date. Committee members asked the Minister if he would support clear policy proposals put forward by the joint stakeholder working group. The Minister confirmed that he would support these proposals if the working group adopted agreed positions.
The Minister also discussed Committee member’s feedback on the Amateur Fishing Trust proposal. During the discussion Geoff Rowling expressed his strong support for the proposal. The Minister acknowledged Committee members support for the proposal but indicated that there had been far from universal support for the proposal. He also clarified that the proposal was subject to new initiative funding in the upcoming budget round.
Agenda Item 3:
Discussion on feedback from charter vessel operators regarding the introduction of activity and catch reporting from recreational charter vessels - (Minister of Fisheries/ Committee Members)
The Minister introduced this item by explaining how the recent meetings with charter vessel operators around the country had generated generally positive feedback.
Bob Meikle and Lorraine Hill stated that this initiative would improve fisheries management by providing fisheries managers with more accurate information. They also explained how this initiative would encourage amateur fishers to follow the example shown by charter vessel operators and become more responsible for the management of the resource.
Committee members considered it was important to build on the goodwill shown by vessel operators and implement this initiative. Geoff Rowling emphasised that it was important to inform vessel operators how information would be used to assist fisheries management in order to retain the goodwill expressed in feedback. Committee members commented that some operators were wary of reporting information to MFish because they believed this information would be used for other purposes in the future. Kim Walshe suggested that to address this issue, an independent charter vessel sector-body could collect the specified information on MFish’s behalf.
Geoff Rowling highlighted that designing a simple reporting form was essential to get vessel operators to buy-in to the reporting system. Bob Meikle showed the Committee a copy of a reporting form currently in use to survey amateur fishers around Bank’s Peninsula. Bob considered this form displayed the desired level of simplicity. The Minister offered the Committee the opportunity to comment on the final draft charter vessel reporting form to help ensure its simplicity.
Agreed: The Committee will provide comment on the design of the final draft charter vessel reporting form.
Agenda Item 4:
Discussion on the size of amateur bag limits - (Minister of Fisheries/ Committee Members)
The Minister introduced this agenda item by stating that while, in the future, amateur bag limits may be addressed through fisheries plans, he was currently responsible for making decisions to set amateur bag-limits throughout the country.
The Minister confirmed that he was getting more and more feedback from amateur stakeholders around the country suggesting some amateur bag limits were too high and that fishers who consistently fished to their bag limit were causing localised depletion in some areas.
Bob Meikle acknowledged that it was quite reasonable for local stakeholders to approach MFish to discuss bag limit reductions if they thought existing bag limits were causing localised depletion. However, Committee members emphasised that wide-scale bag limit reductions were not the best way to address this issue.
Geoff Rowling expressed the view that most amateur fishers would support bag limit reductions if the sustainability of the fishery was at threat. However, he explained that if the sustainability concerns had been caused primarily by commercial fishing, TACC reductions should be applied prior to any bag limit reductions. The Minister responded that when sustainability was at risk, addressing the issue at hand was more important than apportioning blame between sectors.
To conclude the discussion, Kim Walshe stated that it was unreasonable to view bag limits as a tool to allocate catch between sectors. Committee members agreed that bag limits should be set solely to reflect sustainability criterion.
Agenda Item 5:
Discussion on the implications of the recent ORH1 court case for setting and revising Total Allowable Catches (TAC) - (Minister of Fisheries/ MFish/ Committee Members)
The Minister outlined his concern on the state of the ORH1 stock and outlined the difficulties in completing reliable stock assessments in this fishery. He explained how the lack of reliable information on the state of the stock made his decision to set a TAC for the stock very difficult.
The Minister confirmed that in making his decision to reduce the ORH1 TAC he had adopted a precautionary approach which, he believed was consistent with sustainable fisheries management. He expressed frustration at the Court’s decision to overturn this decision because of the lack of information on the stock size relative to maximum sustainable yield. The Minister also expressed frustration at opposition to the proposed change to the Fisheries Act that would enable him to reduce TACs in the absence of reliable information on stock size.
Wayne McNee explained that the Court’s decision set a precedent for other fisheries where little is known about the state of the stocks. He explained that this precedent had implications for amateur fishers. Committee members stated that many amateur sector stakeholders understood these implications and were concerned at the precedent that had been established.
Agenda Item 6:
MFish/Ministry of Justice Presentation on Foreshore and Seabed negotiations and their implications for amateur fishers - (MFish; Ministry of Justice/ Committee Members)
Benesia Smith explained that one of the new provisions in the Foreshore and Seabed Legislation provided hapu the opportunity to establish a Territorial Customary Rights Area (TCR) over their rohe if they could meet a series of tests set down in the legislation.
Terry Lynch explained that the fisheries component of the negotiations settlement would enable hapu to manage fishing (including amateur fishing) in their Territorial Customary Rights Areas (TCR) through mechanisms similar to those outlined in the Kaimoana Regulations 1998. However, unlike the provisions for Mataitai reserves in the Kaimoana Regulations, upon the establishment of a TCR, commercial fishing was not automatically excluded from the area.
Terry explained that any changes to the Amateur Regulations in a TCR would need to be consulted upon and be clearly publicised. Any new rules in TCR areas, including those affecting amateur fishers would continue to be enforced by the Crown.
Agenda Item 7:
MFish presentation on a Treaty Strategy to improve the capacity of tangata whenua to participate in fisheries management - (MFish/ Committee Members)
Terry Lynch gave a presentation outlining MFish’s plan to implement a treaty strategy to improve the capacity of tangata whenua to participate in fisheries management.
Committee members expressed concern that as many Maori fished primarily under the Amateur Fishing Regulations, MFish should focus its efforts to improve tangata whenua involvement in fisheries management by improving the capacity of amateur fishers to be involved in management processes.
Committee members commented how management models that continued to classify stakeholders as either commercial, customary or amateur fishers were outmoded and that management models that considered the rights of all fishers in unison would result in better outcomes.
Wayne McNee stated that fisheries plans aimed to achieve this outcome and that these plans would benefit all fishers.
Agenda Item 8:
MFish facilitated discussion on developing a long-term vision for fisheries management - (MFish/ Committee Members)
Jonathan Rudge gave a presentation outlining MFish’s progress to develop a Vision describing fisheries management in twenty years and a long-term strategy to ensure the Vision is achieved. He outlined that MFish had already received feedback from amateur stakeholders at the regional recreational forum national Hui and from other stakeholder groups.
Committee members explained that different stakeholders would have different visions and that it would be difficult to get them to compromise their Vision to incorporate the views of other stakeholders. Committee members stated that the amateur sector itself was extremely fragmented and it was difficult enough to get consensus amongst amateur fisher representatives on what a Vision might look like. Jonathan Rudge acknowledged the Committee’s concerns but explained that it was essential that MFish provide opportunities for sector groups to engage in the process and the opportunity to discuss their views at cross sector forums. He explained how there would be another opportunity for sector groups to be involved through a formal consultation process after the election.
Committee members commented that current management arrangements are not maximising the potential value from fisheries resources. They also expressed their scepticism over how any Vision would be achieved; suggesting that political expediency rather than any Vision or strategy would guide the future of fisheries management.
Wayne McNee stated that it was crucial to develop a long-term strategy to implement the Vision. He explained that a long-term strategy would help prevent short-term agendas from distracting from long-term goals and allow future Ministers to assess progress towards these goals.
Agenda Item 9:
Recap of action points from meeting, suggested agenda items for the next meeting and conclusion - (Wayne McNee)
Wayne McNee asked if there were any more items of general business. Geoff Rowling expressed his concerns regarding MFish communication with stakeholders prior to the release of the Localised Depletion of Blue Cod in the Marlborough Sounds IPP and the implications this may have on the future development of fisheries plans in the Marlborough/Tasman region. Geoff expressed concern that once an IPP had been released, there was little opportunity for additional options to be put forward into the Final Advice Paper, even if these new options had significant stakeholder support.
Geoff explained that in the past, MFish had agreed to engage with stakeholders to identify options prior to the release of specific IPPs. Geoff considered that MFish had not followed through fully on this agreement regarding the blue cod IPP.
Peter Schroder stated that MFish were currently addressing Geoff’s concerns regarding engagement with stakeholders prior to statutory consultation processes. Peter also outlined that a short-term solution to resolve the serious localised depletion issue in Marlborough had to be implemented quickly, prior to developing a long-term solution through the fish plan process.
Kim Walshe proposed that the Committee needed to return to discussing more strategic issues at the next meeting. Wayne McNee agreed, stating that it is time to review the Committee’s function and how Committee meetings operate.
Wayne thanked Committee members for their contribution and drew the meeting to a close.
The next AFMAC meeting is likely to be held in June 2008.
Agreed: The next meeting will include a review of the Committee’s function and how Committee meetings operate.