Small scale fishermen are the tradies of the sea. These guys and girls head out to sea, rain or shine, to bring back fresh fish. Many of these small scale fishermen don’t own any quota so they end up leasing access rights, fishing for someone else’s benefit.
Quota is king under the Quota Management System (QMS). If you own quota, you call the shots. If you lease it, you pay rent and do what you’re told in terms of what fish to catch, who you sell your fish to, and the price you receive for those fish.
Our tradies are getting a raw deal under the QMS because the demand for rent is depriving these fishermen the opportunity to make a decent living. This needs to change. Fishermen need control of their own quota so they can sell their catch for the highest return, and so they can keep supplying Kiwis with fish.
LegaSea wants to see these fishermen given maximum respect for their effort and that is why we have developed the Rescue Fish policy. This is an innovative policy based on reformatting our whole fisheries management system to give these fishermen a chance to develop their own business models. We all know they need it, a quick wander around the nearest port will reveal an ageing fleet of rundown vessels and an even older crew trying to keep those tubs afloat.
Rescue Fish starts with a Government buy-back of existing fishing rights. Future access will be only be granted to people who are going to get their hands wet. This opens the door for young people to enter the fishery under a provisional permit scheme, much like a managed apprenticeship, with the ultimate goal of encouraging that young person to find an economic pathway to start his or her own small scale operation.
Rescue Fish also means job and business opportunities in the regions because local fishers will be able to bid for access to the fishery on their doorstep. This encourages stewardship of local waters and the marine environment.
Historically, commercial fishing in the regions was a treasured lifestyle with ‘Joe Fish’ supplying the local processing shed and the wharf was a community hub on many afternoons. That was until the local shed shut and the longliners were shunted out in favour of trawlers from a far-away port. Now, the only rumble on the wharf is the twice-weekly arrival of the truck to pick up the bins of fish off the trawlers.
Rescue Fish is all about community and giving kids the opportunity to follow in their parents’ footsteps and out to sea. It’s a reform package that is designed to build abundant fish stocks and allow for fishermen to return to the regions where they can establish a small business and make a decent living income for a change.
Thriving fishing businesses in coastal areas means more work for tradies in the building sector. A win for many of our productive industries and our Kiwi lifestyle.
Rescue Fish policy summary.
Rescue Fish policy – full document.
Please sign the Rescue Fish petition here.