Changing and preserving the recreational right to fish

Dr Randall Bess
Insights Newsletter
4 August, 2017

You may not have read Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s The Leopard but you probably know the novel’s most famous line, “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”
To change things so they can stay the same – that is the gist of our new fisheries report The Future Catch. We released it for consultation on Tuesday.
The report’s starting point are the things that should stay the same. We want to ensure that future generations of New Zealanders can still enjoy going out fishing just as their parents and grandparents did.
But there is a problem. If we continue to fish as we are, there will come a day when we cannot make a decent catch anymore. And this is why things need to change.
For our previous research, we visited places that have become dire for recreational fishers.
In Texas, for example, population growth and coastal development caused overfishing and depletion. It also intensified conflicts between recreational and commercial fishers. And ultimately, it led to severe restrictions on recreational fishing.
Fortunately, the situation in New Zealand is still much better. But we do not want to end up like Texas. And we do not want to see the futile blame games that often happen between recreational, commercial and customary fishers.
There is an inspirational example from a state that got its fishing policies right: Western Australia.
Western Australia’s fisheries are not too dissimilar to New Zealand’s. But the Western Australians have created a model under which competing sectors can collaborate better and reconcile their differences. This model inspired our policy recommendations.

As mentioned, The Future Catch is a draft for consultation. Over the next two months, the Initiative will hold a dozen public meetings around New Zealand. These events are where we want to discuss our findings and recommendations with anyone interested in securing the future of our recreational fisheries.
We invite all fishing sectors to join in our debate. We believe it is vital that fishers from different backgrounds come together and talk with each other rather than about each other.
At the end of this consultation process, we will gather our learnings and release a final report with recommendations to the new government.
We all want New Zealand to remain a vibrant fishing nation. But we will need to make changes to achieve this. Join our debate.
To find out more about the Initiative’s fisheries meetings, please visit our website.

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