Media release: New Zealand's recreational fishers deserve a better deal

Media release
4 December, 2017

Wellington (4 December 2017): New Zealand’s recreational fishing sector needs a representative peak body to bring all marine fishing interests together to engage with the Minister of Fisheries, the new Ministry of Fisheries and other fishing sectors.

There are several options for funding such a peak body. The preferred one is the petrol excise duty that recreational boat-based fishers already pay and get little in the way of benefits. There are other options for funding that could come from fishers. The peak body must have secure funding to succeed.

These are some of the key finding from a final report by The New Zealand Initiative released tonight.

Authored by Dr Randall Bess, The Future Catch argues that urgent action needs to be taken to ensure that future generations of New Zealanders will be able to fish just as their parents and grandparents did.

In two previous reports, Dr Bess had analysed New Zealand’s recreational fisheries and compared them with overseas practices in the United States, Canada and Western Australia. The research was further informed by the visit of a delegation of New Zealanders to Western Australia in May 2017.

The lessons learned in Western Australia and elsewhere were incorporated into the draft consultation version of The Future Catch. Consultation included 14 public meetings from Dunedin to the Bay of Islands to hear the public’s views on proposed policy recommendations. 

Said report author Dr Bess: “New Zealand has a passionate and committed recreational fishing sector. But the sector is not getting the attention it deserves. We call on all Kiwi fishers to help bring about change for a sustainable fishing experience.”

The Future Catch in its final form makes a number of policy recommendations that if implemented would ensure fish stocks important to recreational fishers recover to sustainable levels, and the recreational voice would be heard at the highest level. This way, recreational fishers would have a greater voice in fisheries management decision-making processes.

Final recommendations from The Future Catch report:

  • The Government and all fishing sectors demonstrate a commitment to constructive and effective management of shared fisheries, where the sectors have a shared interest in catching more of the fish stock. This commitment includes:
    • reaching agreed abundance (biomass) targets and actions for reaching those targets, and
    • designing indicators of stock management performance that can be tracked over time (e.g., measuring the satisfaction of the recreational fishing experience).
  • Integrate recreational fisheries into management policies and processes. This is accomplished by:
    • developing a recreational fisheries policy in the context of shared fisheries, so it addresses the causes of intersectoral conflicts that can adversely affect the management of fisheries,
    • improving the information available on recreational fishing,
    • providing broad representation of recreational fishing interests with the establishment of a Western Australia-type institution recognised by the Government as the representative peak body and central point of contact and referral for sector issues, and
    • improving the Ministry for Primary Industries’ culture by including a greater level of stakeholder participation and engagement.
  • Develop a process for fair and equitable total allowable catch allocations and reallocations over time, and in ways that benefit recreational fishers and compensate quota holders.
  • Fund the costs of the proposed new representative peak body and its work for an initial period of time through the petrol excise duty already paid by recreational boat users.
  • Afterwards, the peak body’s role and funding options are reviewed. Those options include:
    • continued funding through the petrol excise duty,
    • contributions (required or voluntary) from recreational fishers and non-fishers willing to support the work of the new peak body, or
    • required registration fees for recreational boats or trailers.

The next step
It is vitally important these policy recommendations are met with a political will to make tough decisions. In this case, the decisions pertain to preserving recreational fisheries for the next generation, while upholding the secure rights associated with commercial quota holdings and Treaty of Waitangi settlement obligations.

Read more:
You can download The Future Catch: Preserving recreational fisheries for the next generation on our website.


Dr Randall Bess is available for interviews, please contact:

Linda Heerink, Communications Officer
The New Zealand Initiative
Phone: +64 4 494 9109
Mobile: +64 21 172 8036

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