John Durrant: Snapper plan denies basic rights

Ministry seems to be blatantly disregarding fishers' attempts to debate proposal to cut bag limits.

Recreational fishers want more consultation on quotas. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Recreational fishers want more consultation on quotas. Photo / Brett Phibbs

In a week where we have seen the campaign against proposals to reduce the recreational snapper limit in the Snapper 1 fishery gain real momentum, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and its minister Nathan Guy have shown an embarrassing lack of interest.

The three proposals put forward by the MPI would see fishers' bag limits reduced to as little as three snapper per person per day.

Commercial snapper quotas would remain untouched and in one of the proposals they would increase.

The knock-on effect of this would be disastrous for the recreational fishing industry and deprive the people of this country of a basic right - to catch a reasonable feed for themselves and their families and friends.

The whole thing stinks and recreational fishers have quite clearly shown their disgust.

But the MPI and Mr Guy seem quite happy to mindlessly trot through the motions of dumping one of these plans on us with a flagrant disregard for the consequences.

We're meant to be in the process of a public consultation.

As part of that NZ Fishing World, with NZ Bay Fisher and NZ Fishing News, has organised a debate on the proposals this month.

Mr Guy and the MPI were invited to this event. It's logical that they, as the parties that will ultimately drive legislative changes through, should be there.

But no. Both Mr Guy and a spokeswoman for MPI rejected our invitation.

Bizarrely, in a letter to me earlier last week, Mr Guy said he could not attend because it would be "inappropriate to engage in public debate".

Is public debate, with members of the public who voted your government in, not exactly what public consultation should be all about Mr Guy?

Surely you should be keen to meet recreational fishers, listen to their views and note them as part of the information that will help you to make an informed decision?

To me, and many, many other recreational fishers out there, your refusal to attend the meeting shows that you, as an elected MP, don't care what we think.

I would love for you to prove us all wrong and come along. Hell, we'll even reschedule the date to suit your diary.

My contact at MPI seemed sympathetic to our cause when I spoke to her earlier last week.

She said that she and her colleagues would consider our invitation.

Consideration obviously takes no time at all at the MPI because a little over an hour after I had sent the formal invitation to our debate, I had a response declining it.

Boy, these MPI officials are efficient.

The MPI public information session that I attended was a farce.

A few stands with MPI staff on each of them there to answer questions from hundreds of people. It's just not good enough.

MPI and Nathan Guy - it's time to front up and talk to fishers and maybe then you can say we're in the process of a public consultation.

John Durrant is editor of NZ Fishing World.

- NZ Herald

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