Objections to Marine Protected Areas Act changes continue to mount

By Maiki Sherman

Objections regarding the proposed changes to the Marine Protected Areas Act continue to mount.  The Government has identified two areas it hopes to set aside for recreational fishing only.

One is in the Hauraki Gulf.  The other is in the Marlborough Sounds.

Local iwi say if the Government's plan goes ahead, they're worried about job cuts and losses to commercial fishing revenue that supports iwi services.

As this group of keen recreational fisherman prepare to set sail, the question on their minds will probably be how many fish they'll catch?  It's a question which the commercial fishing sector says the Govt should also be focusing on. 

Tame Te Rangi says, "That boat will come back in and there will be nobody here to check how many fish they caught, what size, and where.  That is the real problem."

Iwi are certainly upset, taking aim at the Minister.

Te Rangi adds, "He's already fired the bullets before thinking about what it is he's shooting."

For Te Ātiawa in Marlborough, job cuts and revenue losses are a major worry.

Glenice Paine says, "We have a lot of small operators who actually fish other people's quota and also have small processing businesses of their own so we could see that there's a potential for those to be affected."

The Govt says it has set aside $20mil to compensate the commercial sector which will be affected. Te Ātiawa says the social impact on the entire iwi must be remembered, given the revenue from its commercial fishing helps support iwi services.

Paine says, "Like many iwi our commercial quota before settlement was our only income that we've had and it does go a long way to providing some of those cultural programmes that we run for our iwi members so it will make a difference if we don't have that income."

Te Rangi says the financial cost isn't the only price to be paid for the Govt's intention, but also Māori fishing rights, "There's a warning behind what they're saying and I think it's concealing their desire to push us out of this area."

Submissions on the proposal close in March.