AMATEUR FISHING MINISTERIAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Minutes of 30 January 2009 meeting
Phil Heatley – Minister of Fisheries (10:30am – 12:00pm)
Wayne McNee – Chief Executive – MFish
Mark Edwards – Manager Fisheries Policy – MFish
Edwin Massey – Policy Analyst – MFish
Don Syme – Minister’s Private Secretary (10:30 – 12:00pm)
Welcome, introductions, confirm agenda
The Minister introduced himself and welcomed Committee members to the meeting. The Committee confirmed the minutes of the last meeting and asked that a discussion of the previous Minister’s decision to implement the hector’s dolphin threat management plan be added to the agenda.
Ongoing role of AFMAC
The Minister asked for feedback on whether the Committee’s input added value. Committee members explained that although the Committee had an important role in providing advice directly to the Minister they were disappointed that this advice had not resulted in more improved results for amateur fishers. The Minister sought confirmation of the commitment to an ongoing role for the Committee. He noted, it was not necessary to continue the Committee and that he was open to changing its function or make-up to ensure that it was useful.
Government’s approach to fisheries management
The Minister confirmed that he was committed to delivering the promises outlined in the Government’s fisheries policy. For shared fisheries these included:
a)Facilitating recreational, customary and commercial agreement on the location of significant ‘recreation-only’ fishing reserves as one way of recognising recreational fishing needs;
b) A commitment to well-resourced survey and monitoring work in order to better quantify the total extent and location of recreational catch;
c) Charter vessel registration and reporting.
The Minister asked the Committee for feedback on how to implement the Government’s fisheries policy. Committee members confirmed their support for the government’s policy initiatives despite concerns that they were too limited in scope. They explained that the biggest issue facing amateur fishers was the lack of a national representative structure and accompanying lack of resources. They expressed disappointment that the government’s fisheries policy did not directly address this pressing need. The Minister confirmed his commitment to the government’s policy goals. He acknowledged the importance of establishing a representative structure for the sector but explained that the government was not inclined to consider funding its development in the current economic environment.
Discussion on amateur only fishing areas
The Minister outlined his view that amateur only fishing areas were one way to meet the needs of amateur fishers. He explained that he was committed to establishing these areas but that no work had been done by the previous Government to decide the process for their establishment or location. He explained a preference for a negotiation process to establish these areas as it was most likely to induce trade offs between sectors. The Minister asked Committee members for their advice to progress work on these issues.
The Minister noted that some amateur only areas had been largely unsuccessful due to increased effort and localised depletion and that it was likely that amateur fishers would need to report their catch in these areas to enable management at a local level. Committee members discussed how the establishment of amateur only fishing areas could assist amateur fishers to become more involved in fisheries management. They acknowledged that it was likely that amateur fishers would accept additional management measures, such as lower bag limits or reporting requirements, in these areas to prevent localised depletion. Committee members explained that amateur only areas could precipitate amateur fishers to be more involved in fisheries management processes at a local level.
Committee members suggested that the process to establish a mätaitai reserve under the Customary Regulations was a working model of how to establish a localised commercial closure. They believed that there was no need for MFish to vary too much from this model when developing options for amateur only areas
Discussion on improved survey and monitoring work
The Minister explained how it was important that a range of research was carried out to collect information on amateur catch. He outlined how, in the future, technological improvements could help amateur fishers to report their catch. He emphasised that it was important that any future solutions that involved amateur fishers providing their own data were simple and low cost. He explained that it was important that considerable thought go into the design and use of a range of research approaches and that researchers could learn from previous experience and from work undertaken overseas.
Committee members explained that while improving amateur catch estimates was important, tracking trends in amateur fishing activity was also crucial. Committee members explained how this information could lead to better management decisions and that it was important that amateur fishers understood how information would be used.
Wayne McNee asked Committee members to think about how they could contribute to generating improved information on amateur fishing activity. Kim Walshe, as a research provider, declared a potential conflict of interest on this matter. Members suggested that the Committee may have a role in educating the amateur sector on how information provided by amateur fishers would be used in improved management decision making.
There was further discussion on alternative sources of amateur catch information including through fishing clubs and Honorary Fisheries Officers.
Discussion on charter vessel registration and reporting
The Minister explained that in some fisheries charter operators are one of the key extractive user groups and that collecting information from them would benefit fisheries management. He outlined that although he had originally wanted charter operators to collect the information themselves he had found a process to implement a scheme was well advanced. MFish proposals aimed to generate quality information without imposing unnecessary imposition or undue costs on vessel operators. The Minister emphasised that it was not his intention to introduce charter vessels into the quota management system.
Committee members offered support for the scheme but emphasised that it should be no more bureaucratic than necessary and the costs of the scheme be minimised.
Discussion on the implementation of the hector’s dolphin threat management plan
Committee members outlined their dissatisfaction with the process leading up to the previous Minister’s decision to implement the hector’s dolphin threat management plan. The Minister explained that the decision was before the courts and that he would wait to see the outcome of the litigation before considering this issue further.
The Minister highlighted that, while in opposition, he had expressed doubts about the scientific information that had informed the previous Minister’s decision. He explained that all his decisions would be based on the best available scientific information and that he would wait to see the results of the fisheries observer program before deciding what action to take on this matter.
Conclusion – discussion of future agenda items
Wayne McNee explained that it was clear that the Minister wanted to move as quickly as possible to achieve the government’s policy goals. Wayne asked Committee members if they wanted to continue this year and asked their views on how they could contribute. Committee members expressed the desire to continue but raised the possibility of bringing new members on board. Committee members felt the best approach was for MFish to develop options for progressing policy initiatives and discuss them with the Committee prior to the options being released for public consultation.
Mark Edwards thanked Committee members for their attendance. There was some further discussion of the value in achieving more representative engagement in fisheries management, including through regional forums and national groups. He suggested that Committee members think about the current role of regional recreational forums and AFMAC and how this could change. Committee members also suggested that the next meeting could be used to discuss potential approaches to progress amateur only areas. Mark agreed, suggesting MFish would do further work on this issue and then discuss ideas with Committee members at the next meeting.
Forward agenda items for next meeting
The next AFMAC meeting will likely be held in April. Potential agenda items include:
- Ongoing role of AFMAC;
- Progressing amateur only areas;
- Representation of amateur fishers in fisheries management;
- Government’s marine protected areas policy.