It isn’t often the Morgan Foundation honours our politicians, but then it isn’t often they are brave enough to take positions of true leadership.
Labour’s candidate for Kaikoura, Janette Walker, has put forward the idea of licensing recreational fishers between 18-65 and using the revenue to fund an advocacy group.
Suggesting licensing to a community of people used to getting something for nothing is gutsy stuff. It needs to happen, but until now no politician has had the fortitude to say it. For that she deserves credit.
We would go further than Janette. Rather than using the money just for advocacy, we advocate bringing recreational fishers inside the Quota Management System. The licensing of all recreational fishers would not just fund advocacy, but also buying quota from the commercial industry for selected species.
We can’t escape the reality that there are only so many fish to go around. Recreational fishing numbers keep growing, as do the gadgets at our disposal. As a population we are getting bigger, richer and have more free time. The fish don’t stand a chance.
As the recreational catch increases, bag limits will have to fall. We’ve already seen that with snapper and cod, but we still won’t face up to reality. Instead recreational fishers lobby Government to reduce the commercial catch so they can have more. Half the time this stuff ends up in court. It is an incredibly wasteful, unnecessary process.
Recreational fishers should have a quota cap, just like the commercial industry does. This is recognition of the fact that there are only so many fish in the sea.
If recreational fishers want to catch more fish, which seems inevitable, they should buy the quota off commercial operators. Anything less makes a laughing stock of the property right that commercial fishers have. This is exactly the approach that has been used in Australia to create large recreational only fishing areas.
So keep pushing Janette, you are on the right track. Perhaps she is able to be so bold because of her underdog status – she has little chance of making it into Parliament. She is fighting an uphill battle in a safe National seat, and at #46 on the party list, she doesn’t look likely to sneak in that way either.
But still, credit where credit is due. It would be nice if more of our politicians showed real leadership on issues.