Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Snapper Decision Smart Politics But Poor Resource Management

Snapper SNA 1 Minister's Decision

Now having had time to ruminate on the Minister's decision on the SNA 1 snapper fishery, and looking out the window to the sou-westerly sweeping across Whangarei Harbour, I can't escape the conclusion that the Hon Nathan Guy has made a smart political decision, but a poor resource management one.

Not surprising really, when you have your Prime Minister and fellow MPs assailed by every outraged recreational fisher in their electorate at the thought of going to sea and spending $200 bucks on fuel alone just to bring home 3 snapper....and it doesn't help that your party president owns a huge slice of the commercial cake, I mean fillet.....

Easier to give the recfishers what they want and not tick off over a million New Zealanders 13 months before the next election.  Reasoning being that 500 tonnes either way won't show up on the statistics and so won't thinking, but not smart statesmanship that your children and grandchildren will remember you for.

And smart politics, but unfortunately when you check the maths again, and think about the fishery being on a knife edge, and all the natural uncertainties out there on the wind and the water, and climate change (which is not a religion but a scientific fact), it may be enough to tip the fishery the wrong way, and then we end up with nothing for all.

Not quite as bad as the hoki decision some time ago where 100,000 tonnes was allocated that simply wasn't there, leading to a melt-down in some fishing communities, and major embarrassment in the UK when it was revealed that NZ's sustainability claims for hoki were, well, just hoki...

But certainly not the best for the SNA1 fishery.  Which comes back to the key point in my 'umble submission.  We need to get together, recfishers, commercial fishers, and government, and all offer some meaningful concessions and reductions that will take pressure off the fishery long term, so that sometime in my lifetime (I hope), we can run the maths again, and see a certain and steady upturn in fish population numbers.

The dream of sustainability.  That's what I mean.