We need to talk, says Aotearoa Fisheries

  • 16/01/2016
We need to talk, says Aotearoa Fisheries

Maori are demanding assurances customary fishing rights will not be extinguished by plans to create two new fishing parks.

As part of its pre-election pledge to overhaul New Zealand's marine protection laws, the NZ government wants to set up two recreational fishing parks - one in the inner Hauraki Gulf and the other in the Marlborough Sounds.

Most, but not all, commercial fishing in the parks would be banned and compensation is on the cards for commercial operators working within the boundaries of the proposed parks.

Aotearoa Fisheries chief executive Carl Carrington says the proposals have a significant impact on the rights of iwi under the Treaty of Waitangi fisheries settlement given effect by the Maori Fisheries Act 2004.

The exclusion of all commercial and non-commercial customary fishing from parks, reserves and sanctuaries was "making iwi anxious", he says.

"Maori have fought hard to have their fishing rights recognised under the Treaty [of Waitangi] and for iwi to have confidence in treaty settlements, the Government will need to carefully consider these rights," he said.

"It does provide some reassurance that the Government says it will seek greater consultation with Maori and the community to work through the issue."

The key to achieving effective sustainable management of fisheries was being able to measure all catches - customary, commercial, charter and recreational - as effectively as possible.

"Without it, we do not have adequate data on which the government is able to base responsible fisheries management decisions."

Aotearoa Fisheries is New Zealand's largest Maori-owned fishing group, managing more than $530 million of fisheries assets.

It reported a decline in annual profit in December.