Possible Fish & Game merger raises doubts

The possibility of the Otago and Southland Fish & Game Councils merging has not been greeted with positivity by everyone.

The news of an independent review into the council announced by the Government earlier this week was generally welcomed on the day as a good move. However, a southern fishing association and a former councillor believe some of the recommendations made to improve the organisation could be detrimental.

More than 35 recommendations have been made in the review, including halving the number of regional Fish & Game councils from 12 to six.

Fish & Game manages sport fishing and game bird hunting across New Zealand and has had an unaltered structure since it was set up in 1990.

Colin Williams
Colin Williams
Otago Salmon Anglers Association president Colin Williams said he felt halving the number of councils would not be a positive change, particularly if it was going to affect the number of staff in the regions.

"It is going to make it a lot harder for Fish & Game staff to monitor and manage.

"We need as many staff out on the ground as we can have."

Former Otago Fish & Game councillor Dave Witherow agreed.

"I think it is the end of the line for Fish & Game," he said.

The report was a "disaster" and he felt the recommendations would see the council "do the Government’s bidding".

"There will be no more possibility of Fish & Game actually defending the interest of the anglers," Mr Witherow said.

While he thought reducing the number of councils was a good idea, merging Otago and Southland, which were "two of the strongest regions in the country", was "madness".

The independent review was ordered last year by former conservation minister Eugenie Sage following a series of scandals and concerns the organisation was no longer fit for purpose.

The review, undertaken by Belinda Clark and John Mills, described Fish & Game as having a bloated management structure with a lack of good governance practice at all levels, in particular with the management of conflicts of interest.

There was also a notable lack of diversity in council membership, the report said.

There were only three current women councillors, few Maori and young councillors and representation from other ethnic groups was also very low.

It gave the perception of Fish & Game being "clubby" and not welcoming of outsiders.

Acting Conservation Minister Ayesha Verrall said the organisation had work to do on implementing best practice and a steering group would be established to monitor progress.

This group would be chaired by Fish & Game national chairman Ray Grubb and supported by senior staff from Fish & Game and the Department of Conservation.

Mr Grubb said he hoped governance at the organisation would now improve.

He said 30 years had passed since a shake-up at Fish & Game, and called the review "an important health check".

Dr Verrall said some recommendations would require legislative change and she was seeking further advice from the Department of Conservation on these. — Additional reporting RNZ


The sooner F&G are denounced for promoting trout which gobble native fish species to extinction and the high E.coli in waterbodies from their ducks the better. 80% of E.coli in the four main catchments were from avian sources yet the farmers cop all the blame. Others will say that is from all avian sources and bird E.coli is better than cow E.coli but that is simply disingenuous. Time to cull MOST of our rivers of trout please with no license requirements or bag limits and lower duck populations.




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