One of the great things about living on the East Coast is our proximity to the ocean and all the benefits that come with it. Although it has been a while since I’ve been able to get out on the water and go fishing myself, it is something that I think is immensely valuable and important for our region.

I’m concerned that this privilege is in jeopardy as a result of the Motiti Island decision reached in the Environment Court, allowing the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to effectively create marine reserves. This has the potential to cause havoc for our recreational fishing sector as the council can impose fishing restrictions as they see fit, and more and more areas could be ruled out of bounds to the average fisherman.

I accept 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.

National’s Fisheries spokesperson Ian McKelvie has kicked off a petition calling on the Government to change the law to stop the fishing ban being applied to the reefs around Motiti Island and return the accountability for managing fishing stocks to the Ministry. We’re also asking that the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Regional Council to identify actual fish stock numbers and involve the public in wide consultation of how best to manage local fish stocks sustainably.

If you want to ensure fishing continues to be a vital part of the Bay of Plenty way of life I encourage you to sign the petition.

Simon Bridges
National Party Leader