Motiti Island’s fisheries are at risk as local councils now have the power to apply fishing bans wherever they see fit, says National’s Fisheries spokesperson Ian McKelvie.
“This comes off the back of the Court of Appeal ruling in favour of environmentalists on Motiti Island.”
In a decision released on Monday, November 4, 2019, the Court of Appeal has ruled regional councils can use the Resource Management Act to control fishing to protect biodiversity.
The decision was hailed “absolutely significant” from Forest and Bird lawyer Peter Anderson.
Concerns were raised about fishing in the area following the grounding of the Rena. Read more here.
The Motiti Rohe Moana Trust wanted the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to prohibit fishing in the waters around Motiti. But the Government, MPI and the fishing industry said that interfered with the Fisheries Act.
The Court of Appeal found there is overlap between the two acts.
In a statement released today, Ian says National has launched a petition requesting the Government change the law to ensure this does not happen, and that any discussions on future fishing around the Motiti Island reefs involve wider consultation with recreational fishers, iwi, Motiti whanau and the wider Bay of Plenty community.
Ian McKelvie. Supplied photo.
“These powers should remain the prerogative of central government and the Minister needs to intervene to ensure this remains the case.
“One of our great privileges is the ability to get out on the water and put a line out. We need to carefully reconsider any rulings that prevent this from occurring.
“The National Party accepts the need to carefully preserve all forms of marine biodiversity in a sustainable and practical manner. But decisions that are going to affect our recreational and commercial fishers so severely should be made with appropriate thought and caution.
“To support the rights of recreational and commercial fishers I encourage you to sign the petition.”
When SunLive spoke to Mount Maunganui Sports Fishing Club committee member Steve Penn about the Court of Appeal ruling, he was in disbelief.
Steve Penn. Photo: Daniel Hines/SunLive.
“The money that’s brought into the Bay of Plenty’s economy by recreational fishing is massive.”
Steve has fished and dived around the islands concerned for more than 50 years and does not believe any closure is warranted.
“I go out there every other week and the place is alive. Seals, school fish, birds – marine life is abundant. I don’t see how anyone can say it needs protecting.”
He says concerns were only raised by some Motiti Islanders after the Rena ran aground.
“There was a lot of emotion about the damage that was done and some of that was correct. But the area is recovering. You can see the growth out there above and beneath the waves. Closing those areas off would be a really sad thing to do, and to what avail?”
Steve says the local fishing community is not opposed to some form of protection “as long as it’s balanced, warranted and done in agreement with all parties. If not, you’ll get a lot of people who will break the rules”.
The petition can be found here