Marlborough Recreational Fishing Public Incensed Over Scallop Fishery Threats
Marlborough recreational fishing groups are annoyed at government meddling with the process surrounding discussions on the future management of Marlborough’s scallop fisheries.
The scallop fishery has been the focus for intense debate between commercial and recreational sectors as with the depletion of the Tasman and Golden Bay scallop stocks, commercial boats, backed by big companies, are wanting increased access to fish the Marlborough Sounds scallop beds. But what is infuriating the recreational public is that without warning and as submissions were due to close, government suddenly changed the rules.
Two options were initially up for consideration with submissions due to close on 21 February. Then on the eve of submission closure the ministry introduced a third option of a large increase in commercial tonnage and extended submission closure to 3 March.
“Quite clearly the third option was introduced under pressure from the big companies,” said Laurie Stevenson Marlborough Recreational Fishers’ spokesman. “It’s simply outrageous, flies in the face of normal protocol and is shifting the goal posts at the 11th hour. Undemocratic and totally unfair.”
The two original options were: first, for the status quo to remain and second, a proposal to allow 46 tonnes for commercial. The third, later, option proposes raising the commercial quota to 416 tonnes.
Meanwhile Nelson based recreational fishers group TASFISH has told government it’s dismayed at the ministry’s “tight consultation period” of only 18 working days to respond to the first two options. Then on 21 February the Ministry of Primary Industries advised of the third option and extension to 3 March.
“The Minister has undoubtedly been lobbied so hard and so extensively that the commercial quota holders now have their interests put ahead of the long term sustainability of the scallop fishery,” said TASFISH in submissions labelling the controversial third option “the Talleys’ option.”.
“Talley’s” option placed greater weight on the economic consequences of reducing the TACC (commercial catch) than option 2,” said TASFISH.
Economic interests should not override the short and long term sustainability of the scallop fishery.
MRFA spokesman Laurie Stevenson said Minister Nathan Guy needed to stand firm and give full priority to his legal obligations, to manage the fishery in the interest of ensuring the future well being of the scallop fishery.
Also wading into the debate was the NZ Sport Fishing Council which in its submission warned Fisheries Minister Nathan Guy that he must not knowingly risk the productivity and fragile nature of the Marlborough Sounds scallop beds.
“Years of commercial dredging has contributed to the massive collapse of scallop stocks in Golden and Tasman Bays, the lack of regrowth and the acknowledged poor survival of spat and lack of adequate habitat in these areas.”
And on the Marlborough Sounds the council said “Scallop 7 is a public fishery and neither the fishery nor the locals ought to be held to ransom merely to appease quota owners’ interests .”
Finally, the Ministry lethargically proposes to review the fishery at the end of the 2014 season, by which time it is likely that the few remaining scallop beds will have been destroyed said Laurie Stevenson.
“There will be no scallops for anyone. The MRFA and the wider recreational fishing public is incensed by this tragedy,” he said.