The fisheries project began in May 2016 with the aim of eliciting much-needed debate about what New Zealanders want for the future of recreational fishing and needed changes in policies and practices.
The project released three reports. What’s the Catch? analysed New Zealand’s management of fisheries, and The Overseas Catch compared New Zealand’s situation to that of selected overseas jurisdictions.
The Future Catch was released on 1 August as a consultation draft, followed by 14 public meetings up and down the country to discuss draft recommendations.
In its final form, The Future Catch recommends, amongst other things, increasing the biomass of shared fisheries to target levels, developing a recreational fishing policy and establishing a peak body to represent recreational fishing interests https://nzinitiative.org.nz/reports-and-media/reports/thefuturecatch/
The proposed peak body is designed around Recfishwest in Western Australia, which has been effective in improving recreational fisheries and bringing about changes in commercial fisheries to benefit recreational fishers https://recfishwest.org.au/
The Future Catch was launched on 4 December. The Minister of Fisheries, Hon Stuart Nash, joined the panel discussion. He commended the report for contributing to the broad debate. He said that he was not averse to a peak body, but that he will likely make an announcement later this year
The next day the opposition fisheries spokesperson, Gerry Brownlee, questioned the Minister in the House. But, Brownlee avoided questions about the report’s substance. Instead, he asked the Minister whether fishers would be required to report their catch, hold a fishing license or register their boats. The Minister replied ‘no’ to each one
Brownlee then issued a media release claiming the Minister was ‘floundering’ and the report ‘dead in the water’ because, it was alleged, the Minister rejected its recommendations https://www.national.org.nz/nash_confirms_fishing_report_dead_in_the_water
But, the report never recommended required catch reporting. It does list voluntary contributions (hardly a license) and a further option of them being compulsory.
Boat registration is another option, but the preferred option is to use some of the petrol excise duty that boat-based fisher already pay each year and see little benefit from.
Good to see the Minister Nash kept his cool while questioned. We look forward to his announcement https://nzinitiative.org.nz/reports-and-media/opinion/nationals-pretty-kettle-of-fish/
Dr Randall Bess
Research Fellow, The New Zealand Initiative