Greater voice for blue cod group

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 08:43 30/06/2014

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The Marlborough Sounds blue cod management group will be restructured, adding commercial fishing and Maori representatives, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

The minister met the group last week after two members resigned, both citing frustration at the group's lack of influence.

Guy said it had been a "very constructive and open meeting", and "a clear path and work programme going forward" had been established.

That work programme would let the group help develop options to consult with the public later this year, he said.

"They agreed they have a busy period ahead, and they seemed very positive and keen to crack into it."

Guy said that there would be a review of the Marlborough Sounds blue cod fishery later this year with "everything on the table".

The group and the ministry would talk about options for that review with the public towards the end of this year.

"The group is keen to examine its structure and membership as we embark on the review.

"As part of that work we have discussed broadening the membership to include a commercial and tangata whenua representative. I understand the group will be meeting again in the near future to progress their thinking on these issues before reporting back to me."

As well as the new positions, there was also a vacancy for another recreational representative for the Queen Charlotte Sounds area, Guy said. Nominations for these roles would be called for shortly.

It was important to him that recreational anglers continued to enjoy access to this fishery into the future, Guy said.

"It's very important we get the science confirmed, which will take time.

"Of course, the community, iwi and other interest groups all have an important part to play in any decision, and they will need time to consider any changes.

"This means we won't be in a position to rush through any changes before the summer season this year. I‘m advised there are no concerns about sustainability of the fishery in the meantime."

The Marlborough Express understands members of the management group are keen to see it broaden into something like Te Korowai, the Kaikoura marine management group, that includes all sectors and the ministry as equal partners to determine the management of the fishery.

Wellington-based blue cod sustainability advocate Hugh Shields said that with Parliament rising on 14 August, recreational anglers had missed the boat for influencing change for another three years.

"Nathan Guy has indicated the current rules are locked in until October 1, 2015.

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"From there it is a simple matter for ministry fisheries managers to defer the rules review until after the next Niwa [National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research] survey of 2016, with changes in 2017."

- The Marlborough Express

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