A day out fishing at risk

Snapper cuts are part of a smelly trend, writes the Labour Party's Fisheries spokesman David Cunliffe.

Have you ever wondered what paua and snapper have in common?

That's right - in the case of both these popular fisheries, the current National Government has attempted to push the interests of big business ahead of those of everyday Kiwis.

Down South, as I know from recent visits, there has been a huge pushback against Fisheries Minister Nathan Guy's plans to give wider access to the commercial paua industry to 25km of coastline previously kept for recreational and customary use only.

You were so vocal, aided by your local labour MPs Clare Curran and David Clark, that Mr Guy has had to kick those new commercial paua plans into touch. Labour's position on this is very clear: there will be no extension of the commercial paua take to the 25km of additional coastline.

Instead, we encourage a wider dialogue about how the Southern paua stock can be rebuilt for the benefit of the whole community. Up north there is one heck of a fight brewing over snapper.

The National Government is talking about drastically cutting the bag limits from nine to three for recreational fishers - while leaving commercial snapper quotas unchanged. Or, they say, they might increase the minimum legal size from 27cm to 35cm.

That's a huge jump, and we all know a heck of a lot of ''pannies'' will fall into that gap. Meanwhile, the corporates are allowed to keep snapper from 25cm and up.

The reason the snapper debate matters to all fishing Kiwis is that the same bias is showing in the Government's approach to this iconic public fishery: protect the commercial interests of the big corporates, and hang average Kiwis out to dry.

I enjoy nothing better than a day out fishing with my kids. My 8-year-old has all the makings of being a gun fisho. It's important all Kiwis have access to key recreational fisheries, and that we look after them so my son's kids will be able to enjoy fishing, too.

Nobody minds shared restraint to protect the stocks, but let's have rules that are fair between all users.

When managing key inshore recreational fisheries, Labour will:
- Take the sustainability of the stock seriously.
- Protect the public right to fish.
- Improve the science and cut wastage.
- Reduce the commercial catch if necessary to protect the stocks.

Let's start having more government for the people, not doing it to the people for the sake of the almighty dollar.

That way, when my kids and yours grow up, they can have a fishing experience as good as the one we have been privileged to enjoy.


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