Each day during the month of April, the Institute will feature one of the 30 ‘perspectives’ from the One Ocean report. These short articles include a diverse range of views regarding oceans management in New Zealand. Enjoy!
As a fisher and free-diver I am incredibly fortunate to live in Aotearoa and enjoy such easy access to swathes of spectacular coastline. Unfortunately, I feel there is a growing perception that commercial interests in our oceans take precedence over recreational users and the intrinsic worth of ocean ecosystems themselves.
The plight of the Māui’s dolphin exemplifies this disconnect, with the seafood and fossil fuel industries continuing to operate within its known habitat in ways that risk the extinction of the species. Regulations which allow commercial operators to take fish smaller than those allowed for recreational fishers also undermine public trust and support for the Quota Management System.
While recreational lobby groups such as ‘Pāua to the People’ in Otago can successfully fight to delay the expansion of commercial operations, it requires a significant commitment by hundreds of volunteers. Similarly, in relation to seabed mining operations that have been declined resource consents recently, it is hard to believe that this reflects anything more than the strength of the commercial fishing lobbyists who oppose them.
I also lament the fact that fresh kai moana is still prohibitively expensive for many New Zealanders, yet we catch unimaginable amounts of it every day in our territorial waters. This makes catching it ourselves all the more attractive, yet this does not appear to be getting easier. The fishing stories of our parents and grandparents tell of an ocean in which more species were easier to come by (using less advanced technology).
Recreationally, the ocean is so much more than the ‘resource’ it is perceived to be within the quota management system. The ocean is where we spend time with our whānau and friends – where we encounter majestic cetacean creatures, reclusive pelagic seabirds and exquisitely beautiful benthic communities.