Submission on Soundings document and Option 4 document for future of Recreational Fishing.

Ted Howard

1 Maui St

Kaikoura

ted@fishnet.co.nz

Fax 03 319 6797

19 Dec 2000

Context

All parties make the point that recreational fishing is part of the wider context of fisheries management, and the wider context of rights.

Much focus is put upon Maori, and commercial rights, but little attention is paid to non extractive users, and their rights. Living in Kaikoura, where most of the town employment comes from non-extractive uses, and many would like to do much more (if we ever get our marine reserve), I would like to take a wider view.

The sea has many human uses: viewing, fishing, transport, swimming, minerals, oxygen production, path for cables and pipelines, ultimate dumping ground for all water soluble wastes, etc. Taking this wider view is the job of the wider oceans policy, but attempting a major review of recreational fisheries management in the absence of those wider considerations is doomed to failure.

Option4 is, understandably, highly critical of the Quota Management System. I believe the Quota Management System is a very powerful and successful management tool, but is not in itself any sort of panacea for fisheries woes. The most powerful tool is informed and committed individuals, be they commercial, traditional, recreational, conservationist, administrator, scientist or tourist. Enabling information exchange and genuine communication between these groups is my prime objective.

Giving them the tools, in terms of well-defined and tradable rights, to enable them to resolve conflicts between themselves is a secondary objective.

 

The QMS (Quota Management System)

There are major areas of conflict.

The QMS was originally intended only for deepwater fisheries. The inclusion of inshore fisheries was something of a last minute exercise.

The size of the Quota Management Areas is well suited to large offshore fishing vessels, and to offshore deepwater fish stocks, but is not well suited to management of harbour, reef and estuarine fisheries, or to resolution of inter-sector disputes. Attempts to include smaller areas at the start were strongly resisted by the larger corporations (for very good reasons).

The original QMS was based on fixed tonnages, with the crown entering the market when Total Allowable Commercial Catches (TACCs) were adjusted either to sell or buy quota. This mechanism neatly resolved the inter-sector allocation problem, as the crown had to buy out commercial fishers as recreation fishing increased.

Unfortunately the crown oversold quota for key deepwater stocks Orange Roughy and Hoki, and treasury demanded another system of adjustment, where the crown did not bear such a high risk. Hence the change to proportional quotas, via supplementary order paper to the third reading of a finance bill. This fundamental change to the property right was made without any consultation with the majority of right holders.

We now have no effective mechanism to resolve inter-sector disputes in the current system.

 

Where to from here?

I agree with Option4, that we do not need the administrative costs of individual quotas, or registration of recreational fishers, it is simply not cost effective.

I also agree with Option4 that we ought to look to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Looking at it, the first 16 deal with human freedoms, and the article 17 deals with the right of all people, either individually or collectively, to own property. What we do need is a clearly defined proportional recreational right, which could be traded with other sectors (thus recreation fishers might buy out commercial fishers, and take 100% of some stocks in some areas). Within that, the use of bag limits and size restrictions should be used to manage with that proportion, on say, a 5 year rolling average.

There must be mechanisms for local people to have input to local fisheries management. These are not usually issues of stock sustainability, they are issues of local depletion, and inter-group allocation.

I agree with option4 that there must be mechanisms to limit interaction between groups with wildly asymmetric capabilities. Take a scenario where a 68m trawler and a group of recreational fishers both have access to a proportion of the catch, but the big boat can use 99% of the area, and the recreational fishers only 10%. It is clearly in the economic interest of the larger vessel to deplete the shared zone, and thus limit the increase in recreational share. This scenario is extreme, but variations on the theme exist at all levels. In most cases these conflicts can be worked out at the local level, with open dialogue, and codes of practice; and sometimes more formal mechanisms may be needed. While we have some aspects of property rights in fisheries, we are still dealing with a commons property right in many aspects, particularly in the recreational fishery. The commons aspect is inherently unstable, and will tend towards local depletion particularly with the increasing use of technology.

With some fisheries, such as paua, use of multiple small inshore marine reserves close to inhabited areas would be a sound management tool. Paua are a stock where spawning success is dependent on high local concentrations of adults (as they are free spawners, releasing eggs and sperm into the ocean to find each other). Such areas might also provide useful havens for limited numbers of large individuals of many other species (Crayfish, Bluecod, Butterfish, Moki etc) as spawning reservoirs. They need not be large just 100m across, every few kilometres down the coast.

A few larger marine reserves in areas of specific need (rare habitat, tourism, scientific study etc), would round out the use of marine reserves. These must always be with the full co-operation of local people, because only with local commitment and policing will they work.

Summary

We need a structure that allows for local involvement in management within regional and national guidelines.

The stronger the property rights involved, the more stable will be the incentive structures toward sustainability, but property rights in and of themselves do not ensure sustainability. Strong property rights with a wealthy, educated and involved population, are the best way to ensure a healthy and sustainable environment.

We need simple and cost effective management that effectively meets the widely divergent needs of all of the users of the ocean under our care.

Enabling the sort of structures briefly outlined above will allow evolution in this direction.