Amateur Fishing Ministerial Advisory Committee minutes of the meeting held 0n 02 April 2007
11:30-3:45pm, Ministry of Fisheries, Wellington.
Jim Anderton, Minister of Fisheries (Chair, 2:15 - 3:30pm)
John Glaister, Chief Executive, Ministry of Fisheries
(Chair, 11:30am - 2:15pm and 3:30 - 3:45pm)
Susie Iball, Private Secretary (Fisheries), Office of Jim Anderton
James Palmer, Senior Advisor, Office of Jim Anderton
Stuart Brodie, Senior Analyst, Ministry of Fisheries
Randall Bess, Spatial Allocations Manager, Ministry of Fisheries
Lindie Nelson, Senior Policy Analyst, Ministry of Fisheries
Kim Drummond, Senior Policy Analyst, Ministry of Fisheries
Edwin Massey, Policy Analyst, Ministry of Fisheries
Anna Falloon, Acting Senior Ministerial Advisor, Ministry of Fisheries
Agenda Item 1: Welcome, recap previously agreed actions and confirm agenda
John Glaister welcomed the Committee members to the fifth meeting of the Recreational Fishing Ministerial Advisory Committee. The agreed actions listed in the minutes of the 13 November 2006 meeting were noted as completed.
Agenda Item 2: Presentation on the mätaitai reserve application process and resulting discussion
John Glaister referred to the letter of the month in the February 2007 Fishing News “Wary of mätaitai” and then invited Randall Bess to make a short presentation on mätaitai reserves.
Randall Bess explained the Crown’s obligation to provide for Maori customary fishing rights under the 1992 Deed of Settlement included provision for tangata whenua to apply for mätaitai reserves. He then outlined the mätaitai reserve application process and the inaccuracies in the Fishing News letter. Randall Bess and John Glaister both emphasised that, upon establishment, mätaitai reserves exclude commercial fishers while amateur fishers’ access remains unaffected.
Committee members stated that many amateur fishers opposed mätaitai reserves as they don’t understand how the Customary Regulations work or how and for what purpose bylaws could be put in place.
The Committee suggested that increased communication with local people was crucial for preventing unnecessary criticism of the mätaitai reserve application process. The Committee recommended that, when MFish receives applications for mätaitai reserves, it should place press releases in local papers outlining the potential effects on amateur fishers to ensure they are better informed.
Agreed: Upon receiving an application for a mätaitai reserve, MFish will place press releases in local papers to explain the mätaitai reserve application and bylaw processes.
Agenda Item 3: Presentation on the harvest standard consultation document and resulting discussion
Stuart Brodie made a 20 minute presentation on the harvest strategy standard, which will provide for greater consistency and transparency in the management of New Zealand fish stocks. He noted that consultation on this draft standard would close on 26 April. John Glaister thanked Stuart for the presentation and suggested that Committee members ask Stuart questions during lunch.
Agenda Item 4: Discussion on the key themes of submissions received on the shared fisheries proposals (With MFish)
John Glaister introduced this agenda item by referring to the draft Summary of Submissions, prepared by APR Consultants, which had been circulated to the Committee. He then asked for their views on whether it was as they had expected.
Committee members were heartened to see that the major amateur fishing sector groups were keen to engage with the proposals and find solutions, but disappointed at the total number of submissions received. John Glaister stated that while 600 submissions was not a lot compared to the total number of amateur fishers it actually represented a relatively large response for an MFish consultation process.
Committee members emphasised that the submissions showed that there is widespread support for change and for strengthening the rights of amateur fishers. Members felt that opponents of the shared fisheries proposals had blown the potential risk associated with change out of proportion. Members believed that critics of the proposals were more interested in derailing the policy process and were not interested in engaging with the proposals as they stand.
Committee members expressed disappointment that there was not more support for the proposal to establish an amateur fishing trust. Members believed that many amateur fishers viewed the establishment of a trust as a first step towards amateur fishing licenses. Members were not surprised that many commercial stakeholders were opposed to the creation of the trust, stating the commercial sector felt threatened by the potential for amateur fishers getting better representation in management debates.
Committee members then debated the strengths and weaknesses of the amateur fishing trust proposals. They questioned whether the Government had a role in funding an amateur fishing trust and considered that there should be further debate as to how the trust (or a long-term organisational structure) could secure a long term funding source. Committee members concluded that it was important that, if a trust was established, it would need to be completely independent from Government.
Committee members debated whether licensing would lead to increased amateur participation in fisheries management at a local level and whether licensing would lead to a transaction-based mechanism for adjusting allocations between sectors. John Glaister stated that it was very unlikely that licensing would be introduced unless it was requested by the sector itself and agreed with Committee members that people would be more responsive to licensing if they could see tangible returns from their license fee.
Committee members debated whether fishing clubs could be used as a basis for creating a representative organisation. There was general agreement that a club-based representative structure was unlikely to succeed due to the relatively low membership of fishing clubs, compared to the total number of amateur fishers.
Committee members expressed surprise that submissions indicated that many amateur fishers favoured some form of proportional allocation of catch. Members felt that most amateur fishers were strongly against a fixed proportional allocation, but could see the merits of a proportional system if there was an effective mechanism to adjust allocations over time. Committee members noted concern that the details of the adjustment mechanism needed to be determined before they could comment further.
Committee members noted that both submissions and amateur stakeholders’ views expressed during public meetings were strongly in favour of progressing the local area management proposals. Some Committee members believed the potential for amateur fishing havens was a key incentive to bring the commercial sector to the negotiating table and lead to more inter-sector agreements.
John Glaister noted that he was pleased that Committee members support taking the shared fisheries debate forward. Committee members stated they were pleased that the shared fisheries proposals had prompted debate as to how amateur fishers could better contribute to fisheries management.
Agenda Item 5: Discussion on renaming the Recreational Fishing Ministerial Advisory Committee (RFMAC)
John Glaister introduced this discussion by reading dictionary definitions of the terms “amateur” and “recreational”. The Committee decided that a vote following an official motion would be the best process for deciding whether a name change was appropriate. Sheryl Hart moved that the name of the Committee be changed to the Amateur Fishing Ministerial Advisory Committee (AFMAC). Peter Ellery seconded the motion, which was unanimously supported by the Committee.
The Minister asked why the Committee was in favour of the name change. Committee members responded that the word “recreational” inferred that amateur fishers were flippant and that they did not see fishing as a serious activity, or implied that they “played” with their food.
Agreed: MFish to update external website to reflect the Committee’s name change.
Agenda Item 6: Minister’s view on issues arising from the shared fisheries consultation process and the High Court’s decision in the kahawai litigation
The Minister introduced this agenda item by stating that he was disappointed with how all stakeholder groups had responded to the shared fisheries proposals. The Minister acknowledged Keith Ingram, president of the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council, had distanced the organisation from some less constructive amateur stakeholder groups. The Minister considered that the entire fishing sector as a whole had showed a lack of willingness to work together to resolve the issues raised in the discussion document.
The Minister outlined that the shared fisheries consultation process indicated that there was an overwhelming majority of individuals who wanted change. He emphasised how he was keen to look carefully at the key submissions and listen to Committee members’ views on the issues raised.
The Minister stated that he thought much of the negativity coming from the commercial and customary sectors arose for political reasons rather than for reasons of fact. The Minister also stated he was disappointed some of the harshest critics of the proposed reforms had appeared not to have engaged with the proposals themselves, as set out in the discussion document.
The Minister stated that he did not want to comment extensively on the High Court’s decision in the kahawai litigation but indicated that the Crown was unlikely to appeal the decision.
Committee members noted that the kahawai case had potentially strengthened the position of amateur fishers who sought more effective input into ongoing management debates.
Agenda Item 7: Discussion on the key themes of submissions received on the shared fisheries proposals (with Minister of Fisheries)
The Minister stated that he continues to hold the view that the future gains associated with the shared fisheries proposals are worth the negativity currently surrounding the process. The Minister then called for comments from Committee members on the shared fisheries reform process to date.
Committee members agreed that, despite the negativity, it was important to try to progress the reform process to the next stage. Committee members stated they were not surprised by the commercial sector’s response to the shared fisheries proposals. Committee members emphasised that, since commercial fishers currently have well defined rights, they will do everything to protect their interests, including trying to stop the reform process.
Committee members stated that, it was important for amateur and commercial fishers to negotiate to find acceptable management solutions. Committee members felt that the most creative mechanisms were likely to be worked out through inter-sector discussion.
Committee members stated that if the amateur sector saw some positive outcomes emerging out of the reform process they would offer their support and the negativity expressed in submissions would diminish. Committee members urged the Minister to proceed with the reform process. They felt that to abandon the process at this stage would be a waste of time and effort and that some of the initiatives could result in tangible benefits for sector and for fisheries management more generally.
The Minister emphasised that the ongoing criticism had made it difficult for progress to be made on the proposals for reform.
Committee members asked the Minister what their involvement in the reform process should be. The Minister responded that he would like to hear Committee members’ views on options for taking the reform process forward. The Minister asked Committee members to provide their views by the end of April 2007 at the latest.
Agreed: Members to offer feedback on progressing the reform process by 1 May 2007
Agenda Item 8: Meeting Close
Sheryl Hart requested that MFish distribute all important MFish consultation documents to Committee members. The next AFMAC meeting is likely to be held in June. John Glaister thanked Committee members for their contribution and drew the meeting to a close.
Agreed: MFish to include Committee members in consultation on key initiatives.